Designing a Coffee Mug

  • At the beginning of 2017, me and the rest of my fellow bachelors in product design from the Universidade do Extremo Sul Catarinense, were challenged to develop an iconic mug for Vista Alegre in Portugal. This challenge was presented to us earlier that year and by July the winner would be announced and would then have the opportunity to develop the project for three months, along with other professionals from all around the world in a program developed by Vista Alegre called IDPool. Until July of that year amidst studies and an internship, I dedicated myself to deciphering the meaning of the word “iconic” and the shapes, colors, processes and messages that my concept would bring.

    And a part of the text that led me to win was: When you see an object you make assumptions about it and that happens in a matter of seconds. What it does? How will this work? How heavy is it? How much should cost this? The language of an object can become the greatest tool of it, as it can be expressed through shape, color, design or interpretation. It is well known that every object, intentionally or unintentionally, speaks for the one who placed it there. Henry Ford once said that "Every object tells a story if you know how to read it", and that communication is the main pillar for making an iconic and timeless product. The most important feature of a product should always be the experience it delivers. In the Papo mug the iconic is mainly in the understanding and perception of the information that the user captures. It is this conversation (Papo in portuguese) that has given the north to the development of the project, creating the concept, iconic language.

    Iconic is: Combine form and function; Tell a story and create value; Be robust enough to be clean and refined to mass production; Pass the feeling of quality; Develop a special experience; Communicate with the user; Not having excess; Be durable.

    The design: Cut drops: A cut in the body that forms a barrier against small drops that may drip when used. Ergonomic Lines: Mug has been designed to have curved lines that deliver a more comfortable grip to the user. Base (saucer): Works as a larger splash protection and to the resting of a spoon, the same was designed not to go beyond the silhouette of the mug thus the user will not notice when lifting it to drink their beverage. It can also be used as a second support, beyond the handle. Plasticity: The mug has a mostly smooth body, which allows the application of various prints. Ludic (iconic experience): When realized that there are no saucers, the Mug stirs the user's imagination and curiosity so fun, creating a unique experience with the object.

    Designer: João Luiz Flores Gomes 
    Model produced by Vista Alegre 
    Year of Production: 2017 

  • After starting my work at IDPool, it would still take me almost two months to be able to touch the final product and realize the features planned in theory in the physical and real world. After numerous drawings and conversations with Vista Alegre designers and engineers, I was able to start producing a model. The most amazing thing in this part was that the differences in some technical drawings or shapes were at 1mm level, which was enough to completely change production and the final result.

    For the creation of the plaster model, which later would allow the production of a mold, a lot of manual work and experience is required. As in previous processes, I had the help of excellent professionals during the production process, in which only they could perform such work. After the mold was created it was dried and then filled with liquid porcelain. The process is called "colagem", where the material is inserted into the mold and remains there for a few days until the water is absorbed by the plaster and the solid porcelain particles settle on the mold surface to take the shape of the mold.
  • When the mold is opened it is already possible to see the shape of the mug. At this stage the handle will be attached to the body of the mug and both have a larger size compared to the final product because during the oven burns the mug will retract.
  • It is incredible to see that impeccable manual work persists throughout the production process. At this time the mug has been through the first burn of over eight hours and cooled for hours. Now this will receive a thorough finish throughout, which will later be dipped into the enamel tank and taken for one more burn.
  • It's truly amazing to see how the design is a process of evolution. It is a process of failing, failing, failing, so that ultimately comes success. I was able to test the product in the final materials and actually see how the shapes and solutions I developed behave in the real world. The first thing I did was go to the nearest coffee machine to refill the mug. It worked and it was a special moment.

    This project would not exist without the collaboration and help of countless people. If I would to describe them all, it would be a list longer than thirty names of Brazilians and Portuguese. Thank you very much for all of you and it is with great pleasure that I finally reveal the project (which was under contract) to the world.
  • I hope you have enjoyed, thank you.