mug shots.

May 30, 2012 § 5 Comments

As I have confessed before, I am an avid coffee drinker.  Not only do I enjoy the coffee, but enjoy the vehicle that gets the coffee from the pot to your lips…yes, the coffee mug.

I admit, it’s a rather strange fascination I have with coffee mugs.  If you have ever shared a cup of coffee with me, you have probably noticed my habits for commenting on the success of the coffee mug.  I question odd things like:

Is it easy to hold?

How well does it insulate heat?

How does the mug influence the way I enjoy my drink?

How does the mug aesthetically look?

(Yes, I actually think about these things.)

And so before starting my European adventure last August, I knew I wanted to collect something special from each travel I was blessed with.  That special something is a coffee mug.  To my best ability, I tried to collect a special mug from all the magical places I was privileged to experience.  From start to finish, I collected a total of thirteen beautiful mugs that will now outfit my new apartment (that I have yet to find…).  And now at the conclusion of my adventure, it is time to share these gifts with you (yes, I had a mug-photo shoot in my backyard).

And no, these beauties will not be placed on a shelf to collect dusk like so many other souvenirs (cabin crap as my mother calls it), these are definitely to be used!

So the invitation is now open, I welcome you to my home (that I have yet to find…) to take a trip around Europe (through a coffee mug of your choice) and enjoy a cup ‘o joe (en kop kaffe).

Stockholm.  This mug was my first mug purchase in Europe and my favorite.  This mug is huge and reminds me of the huge bowls of hot chocolate enjoyed again and again while in Stockholm.  The pattern, Mon Amie, one of Sweden’s best-loved porcelain series, by designer Marianne Westman in the early 1950s.  The simple sophistication and Swedish blue brings memories of this quaint country that birthed Ikea and H & M.

Finland.  This is mug is from the Finnish brand Ittalia that also produced designs from my favorite Finnish architect, Alvar Aalto.

Prague.  I found this mug while wandering through a Czech craftsman store.  The hearty mug reminds me of cozy nights spent wandering down Charles Bridge after enjoying a cup of goulash.

Budapest.  Budapest was a city with flair, as is this handmade mug.  I found this mug while at the Budapest Central Market (what a wonderful market!).  I bought the mug from a chatty Nigerian man who I shared a thirty minute conversation about cheese with…good times.

Vienna.  This mug exhibits the work of famous Viennese artist, Gustav Klimt.  The city was all about celebrating the artist’s 150-year anniversary during my visit, so I had to snap up a memorable souvenir from the artist.  Best known for the painting, The Kiss, Klimt was an influential artist in the Vienna Secession Movement.  Here is one of his better known paintings, the Adele Bloch-Bauer I, ornamented with gold leaf.

Copenhagen.  A Christmas gift from my host mom, Katrine.  She knew of my mug collecting habits and wanted to give me something from Copenhagen.  Although not from one of my travels, a mug that I hold near and dear to my heart in remembrance of my time living with her.

Barcelona.  This mug was purchased while touring world-famous Catalan architect, Antoni Gaudí’s Casa Batlló.  The home was built in and has a nautical motif and roof that looks like dragon scales. This mug is of a similar motif to many in the home.  And how great is the detachable spoon on the handle?  Memorable and functional!

Florence.  I had to find something that reminded me of the wonderful colors of Tuscany and this mug fit the bill.  Hand-painted and hand-sculpted, this mug is a work of art. Even better, I purchased it from a local pottery studio next to my friend Kristina’s humble Florentine apartmento.

Florence.  This was a gift from my Florentine friend, Kristina.  She blessed me with hand-painted beauty while visiting Copenhagen at the end of April.  The mug is from the same studio as the mug from above.  I absolutely love the hand-painted care in this mug, its imperfections make it even richer.

Berlin.  While visiting Berlin, I found myself in the middle of a protest march.  I didn’t know what the protest was about, I was just trying to cross the street!  In taking refuge, I ducked into an edgy coffee shop and had a simple conversation with the barista, a grumpy Mr. Clean-looking fellow.  This mug is handmade by a local Berlin ceramic artist and reflects the functional tradition of the German Bauhaus tradition.  The B.O.B. logo stands for ‘Best of Berlin’…the name of this edgy coffee shop I found refuge within.

Amsterdam.  Well, Amsterdam is full of coffee shops but none that I wanted to take part in! (Smoking hash in Amsterdam is legal in licensed ‘coffee shops’ sprinkled throughout the city)  I purchased this mug from the quaint and cozy, Melly’s Cookie Bar and Gourmet Coffee Shop after chatting with the barista, a fellow West-Coaster studying in Amsterdam.  The tall and skinny mug reminds me of the tall and skinny homes squished together along the many canals that create the city.

Ireland.  This mug was discovered while on a bus tour of the famous Ring of Kerry in Western Ireland.  We made a stop at a reconstructed Irish Turf village in the middle of nowhere. The green mug reminds me of those rolling green hills of Ireland and the ewe, well there were plenty of those in Ireland too.  Oh Ireland mug, I love ewe too!

Copenhagen.  In my final days in Copenhagen I was on the search for the perfect mug.  You might be thinking, it’s so simple.

Yes it is!

Yet it reminds me of everything Danish.  Light colors, natural wood, a hearty and hygge cup that invites cradling and enjoying a cup of tea.  The wood coaster (pictured on top) acts as a coaster and heat-trapping lid…wow!  Multi-functional Danish design at its finest.  I have to confess, this mug was actually handmade in Sweden…however I found it in Copenhagen, so that counts for something right?

Jeg håber at dele en kop kaffe med dig snart!


§ 5 Responses to mug shots.

  • LKD says:

    I collect mugs, too. And the same thinking influences my purchases. Your mugs are wonderful. I want to have coffee with you!

    I’m sitting here drinking coffee from a standard Ikea mug. Somehow not the same!


  • meyerev says:

    I love this, Kirsten! Such a good way to keep track of your travels and be reminded of your year abroad with every sip of a steaming cup of coffee. Hope you’re enjoying home!

  • gingerbreadcafe says:

    Great blog, a great way to remind you of your travels. I love the mug with the spoon. My own favourite mug is one I picked up in Stowe, Vermont. It is chunky, basic and with a good handle, it makes me think “ahh Vermont!” in a nostalgic way.

  • knotrune says:

    What a wonderful, eclectic collection, each with a special memory. I’m glad you plan to use them too 🙂

  • rangewriter says:

    What a clever way to cement memories of the places you visited. This is a marvelous collection and I love how you really defined the essence of the individual places with a careful selection of one-of-a-kind mugs. Well done!

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