Thursday, July 24, 2008
Milspec Caffeine: The Design of U.S. Navy Coffee Mugs
A few years go, my wife and I gutted and renovated our house. Along the way, I somehow convinced her to let me design the kitchen to evoke the feel of a U.S. Navy electronics workshop I'd spent many hours exploring at an abandoned shipyard here in San Francisco. (This room was my inspiration, and this was the result.)
After the remodel was finished, the Navy theme carried through to my morning coffee. I began collecting coffee mugs like the ones found aboard many ships in the U.S. fleet. The basic design of the mugs themselves is a wonderful study in functional elegance: They're heavy ceramic, extremely durable, and they retain heat nicely when filled with warm java. Plus, many come with cryptic-but-colorful graphics that represent the insignia of various Navy ships, squadrons, and air wings. Now I get a tasty twofer every morning — a shot of classic industrial design combined a splash of graphic art — along with my cup of joe.
This mug in particular is my favorite; I bought it from a nice young officer who was selling them on the sidewalk during Fleet Week a few years back. It's from the Navy's Destroyer Squardon 7, aka: Desron 7. (I love saying that.) The graphic is so old skool:
Want one? The mugs are pretty easy to find on eBay, and the best ones seem to be manufactured by a company called MilArt, where you can also buy direct.