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    Coffee United mug and leaving London

    Jozephine Duker / 14 oktober 2020 / Stories

    At the end of 2010 we were asked by a Dutch Coffee bar chain named ‘Coffee United’ to design a series of cups for their cafés. It was amazing to have just started with Unit 30 and already work on a commission. We were charmed by the story and passion of the owner and dived into the identity of the brand to design cups representing the company. Words that popped up in our heads were ‘cosiness’, ‘home feeling’, ‘warm’, ‘senses’. We designed a series of four mugs in different sizes with different textures. The textures matched the tastes of the various coffees and was meant to intensify the experience of drinking a specific coffee.

    Coffee United Groningen

    Sketch Coffee United mug

    From London to Sweden and the Netherlands

    After we had presented our concepts and designs a great chance came up for Jozephine. She could do an internship at the Design Department of IKEA of Sweden. In a short period of time she left London to live and work in Älmhult (Sweden) for 5 months. It was a huge contrast to suddenly live in quiet Älmhult, with just one traffic light, compared to an always busy London.

    Willem also left London and started a life in Groningen in the Netherlands. While Jozephine had a great time in Sweden and worked on various projects, Willem also found his joy in his new city and started the product development of the Coffee United mugs.
    Maybe a bit strange to live in different worlds after just having set up a company together and work on a commission together. But also, very enriching for both of us.


    Spatula design Jozephine for IKEA

    Development of the mug

    The mugs took their final shape while modeling in plaster and Willem started a search into production companies in Europe. He found a good partner in Germany. We learned a lot in the whole process of working with external production and working with a client. One of the lessons we learned is that it’s important to speak with the people who will actually use your design as well, to hear about their experience and expectations.

    We look back at this project in a very positive way, even though it was not always easy. For instance, we had to add a handle to the mug after the design was already finished. A challenging task. Nevertheless, we’re very happy with the result. Although we love the design without a handle.

    The one thing we feel a bit sad about is that in the end only one model of the four was produced. And unfortunately, after a few years the franchise stopped and the ‘Coffee United’ mug disappeared.
    Nevertheless, the designs are still here and we’re considering making them ourselves one day. What do you think? Should we?

    Coffee United mug

    Detail of texture

    Plaster model on lathe

    Texture applied by hand

    Adding a handle to the design

    Checking the mugs from the factory

    Coffee United mugs in use

    Coffee United mug 'Mobi'

    Tactile texture

    Coffee United logo