Longing: Tealight Holder

“Hey, I miss you.”

The project in one sentence:

The top half of this tea light holder can be sent out (with your message written on it) in a standard envelope like a sky lantern, and it will never be complete without the other half.

Longing flatpack tealight project

The goal of this project was to create an item that adds value to the traditional tealight. The design must also fit the "Flatpack" constraint. 


OCADURanee Lee


Tealights is a very small and simplistic, which also mean it is a very mundane object. It also puts constraints on the choice of materials. Another constraint of the project is to make the product "Flatpack" meaning it needs to expand after unpacking.


The Longing tells the story of sky-lanterns. The top half comes flat and can be mailed anywhere in a standard envelope. The top and bottom are two different styles that is meant to look "unfinished" when used apart. The top and bottom half are made from the same piece of material.

Project Details

The longing imitates the form of the traditional sky lantern from the Thailand Sky lantern festival. The paper sky lantern carries the wishings and prayers of the sender into the realm beyond.

Rough Prototype Phase

The prototype is designed to look like a traditional Chinese lantern with simple geometric forms.

The original Prototype consist of a stand that can be folded down into a flat piece.

The stand on the bottom also has slots that fold up to hold the tea light inplace.

The lantern turned out to be too large and the proportions looks odd.

Refined Prototype 

The design and the material (copper) of the base was changed to be more heat resistance, strong and stable.

In the original design, the top half of the tea light was going to levitate, and tied down by strings on each side. However, through trial and error it was proven impossible, paper that was too thin did not hold enough hot air, while dense paper was too heavy. None of the prototypes passed the test even with 7 tea lights.


The packaging uses one sheet of material to support the flat pack theme while remaining extremely efficient.

In the final product, both sides would have a transparent layer to support the wooden base and protect the content.

I used ancient Chinese architectural joinery technique called “Shun mao” for the beams to lock each other into place.

The packaging was designed like this not only to support the theme of the Tea light holder, but also to enhance the DIY experience of the whole product.

Final Model

The tealight is meant to look lonely when placed apart. traditionally, the top half of this holder (the sky lantern) would have words written on them, which is also an option for users.

•    •    •

Designers are Answers
- Howeson Lu-

Copyright ©
All rights reserved.
Using Format