Extruded from a single piece of aluminum, the Sigg bottle was initially developed as a hot water bottle in the 1920s, became a useful camping accessory thanks to the carrying hole in its cap, and beginning in 1980 was sold as a drinking bottle for athletes. An example of how the same form can be reimagined for different uses over the course of a hundred years.
Founded in Biel in 1908 by the metalworker Ferdinand Sigg, the Sigg company produced simple household goods, adding field dishes for the military to the product range after moving to Frauenfeld in 1917. A so-called pattern maker was responsible for the development of new products until, in 1965, the company hired Johann Munz (b. 1939), a graduate of the Kunstgewerbeschule Zürich, as a designer. Munz proceeded to unify the range, which had swelled in the 1950s to encompass over 10,000 items that followed no discernible line. The Sigg aluminum bottle proved to be the product with the greatest longevity. Its simple extruded shape could be manufactured from a single piece—an advantage over iron and copper bedpans with corrosion-prone welding seams. Painted in plain colors, in smooth or ribbed versions, it remained popular even after plastic hot water bottles were introduced. In 1968, Munz designed a new plastic screw cap that resembled the top of the Sigg frying pan cover from the same period. The practical carrying hole in the cap may have prompted people to start using the hot water bottle as a drinking bottle. It was first sold for export as a camping bottle, and then starting in 1980 as a plain-colored water bottle for mountain climbers and athletes. From 1989 to 1994, Kurt Zimmerli (b. 1946), who had trained at the Schule für Gestaltung Basel, took the next steps in the development of water bottles for Sigg AG. Diversified to hold different volumes, outfitted with sport caps and colorful decor, the erstwhile hot water bottle blossomed in the 1990s into a must-have global accessory. (Renate Menzi)