For the past few months here in Philadelphia, a lot of talented designers, makers, and artists went head-to-head in the Yards Tap Handle Throwdown at NextFab Studio. This was a great idea by NextFab and Yards: the goal was to conceptualize and create a real-life prototype of a new tap handle for Philadelphia’s local brewery, Yards. The winning design gets a whole bunch of beer-related prizes, but best of all, the tap handle actually gets manufactured and used in bars around the city.
Why are we writing about it? Like an over-zealous and boastful parent, we are absolutely thrilled to say that Clear-Coat’s own Industrial Designer, John Combs, took home the gold in this city-wide contest! John put a lot of great work into this, and was generous enough to share his entire creative process here on the blog. Enjoy!
Here are the elements John saw around Philadelphia and at Yards Brewery that inspired his design concept:
Putting these elements together, you can see his sketches and ideas start to gel into a cohesive idea:
The concept was completed, so now John had to choose materials and a process to create the tap handle. In the end, he selected salvaged wood and aluminum as his materials. The handle was fabricated by John using a combination of Water Jet cutting, Laser Cutting and Engraving, as well as a whole lot of manual work.
Final Product and Hero Shots
Here are the final pictures of the completed, winning prototype. One really cool design detail to check out are the burned edges of the wood – these are a natural side effect of cutting with a laser, and John left these burnt edges as-is for a rustic look. If you live in the area, look for John’s tap handle at a bar near you!