Dispenser for tea vendors on Indian railway stations

Embracing unspoken user needs

Design for Social Needs |  Classroom Project (Individual) | Duration - 6 weeks


When you are in India, the long tiring train journeys often call for some refreshing hot “masala chai”. While you look out the window and enjoy your tea, the “chai wala” (tea vendor) struggles to serve everyone in the moving train. 

Research Brief

Empathize with the tea vendors on railway stations and understand their daily routine. Identify and analyse the pain points that come along with their occupation and how it affects their efficiency. 

Problems faced by the tea vendors

The task of carrying a 5L tea container for more than 10 hours a day with only one hand is extremely taxing for the body. 

Problems with Usability and Ergonomics

  • Very heavy

  • Has to be carried with one hand

  • Back and shoulder pain 

  • Has to be placed between his knees while serving 

  • Movement is restricted 

  • Cannot multitask

Problems with functionality 

  • Container is prone to dents 

  • No extra insulation

  • Risk of hot content touching other people

  • Tap is on the bottom making it unhygienic 

Design Brief

Redesign the tea dispenser used by tea vendors on the Indian railway stations to improve their work efficiency and thereby increasing their daily income.


  • Proper Weight Distribution 

  • Leak proof

  • Compact 

  • Easy to carry and use

  • Durable and robust 

  • Insulated 

  • Grip

  • Cheap


  • Increase the product life 

  • Add value and dignity to the labour

Ideation Sketches

Exploratory Mock-ups

Final Concept -

Retrofit of the existing tea dispenser

(due to economic considerations)

Separating Zipper

Canvas bag insulated with PU foam

Broad Nylon adjustable straps with padding


  • Dimensions - 300 mm by 240 mm

  • Estimated cost - Rs. 300

  • Product Life - 3-4 years 

Key Advantages 

  • Ergonomic

  • Hands-free design 

  • No movement restriction

  • Very cheap

  • Extra Insulation 



While serving tea on the platforms and inside the crowded trains 

When walking long distances and not serving 

For example - changing platforms, climbing stairs, etc. 

This project is still a work in progress.

© Aishwari Vaidya 2020