Plastic Surgery

RKS Design molds a safe new material into a futuristic and functional drinking vessel.

In 2005, Eric Barnes, a Southern California entrepreneur, hired RKS Design to devise a new kind of water bottle. It had to be re­usable, durable, and dishwasher-safe—and it had to be made from a plastic that didn’t contain the chemical bisphenol-A, or BPA, which has been linked to cardiovascular disease and diabetes. There was just one hitch: such a material didn’t yet exist. “We were scratching our heads,” Chris Glupker, of RKS, says. “Finally, we talked to a representative from Eastman Chemical Company who was working with us on plastic guitar bodies at the time. He said, ‘Well, we’ve got something in the works that you might be interested in.’” That something turned out to be Tritan, a copolyester (a new, high-performance polymer) with similar strength and clarity to BPA-laden polycarbonate.

With its crystal-blue body, white trim, and streamlined shape, the Kor One bottle is substantially slicker than its backpacking brethren. “We set out to do a very emotional, impactful design, something that would kind of beckon to people as a lifestyle product,” Glupker says. It’s also a paragon of functionality: the hinged lid flips open with the press of a button and forms a leak-proof seal when closed. Ultimately, the makers hope that the stylish design will deter users from buying throwaway water bottles. (Kor also takes back its product for disassembly and recycling.) Here Glupker talks about the making of Kor One, available for purchase at

Product dimensions
Height: 11.4 in.
Base width: 3.5 in.
Base depth: 2.6 in.

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