Mug life: an interview with designer & tea-lover Katrina Ives

PUBLISHED: 15:39 04 November 2015 | UPDATED: 15:53 04 November 2015

Katrina Ives.

Katrina Ives.

Copyright 2015. All rights reserved.

An infatuation with the letter Q and a deep-seated love of pottery led Katrina Ives to launch Qtique – a range of beautifully crafted English pottery mugs with a fun-loving edge, designed right here in the Cotswolds. We caught up with her to find out more about the lovable kawaii-inspired ‘Muggsies’ and running a successful homeware business

The Alphabetty collection.The Alphabetty collection.

How did the business come about?

I have always had a strong interest in pottery, collecting many different pieces since a very young age. Over the years, my attention grew towards mugs more than anything else, and I realised I could take that obsession to the next level by creating the mug of my dreams! After showing my designs to friends, family and people in the industry, I realised that I had a product that would benefit not just myself, but many fellow mug lovers out there.

How would you describe your style?

I see great beauty in classic English design and craftsmanship, and also grew up with my Finnish Mother’s Scandinavian minimal style. I favour a mix between the two, blending traditional shapes with simplicity and functionality. I love pieces that have an understated elegance and are a reflection of their owner in some way.

Cute expressions all round from the 'Muggsie' collection.Cute expressions all round from the 'Muggsie' collection.

Who or what inspires you?

I am very lucky to be surrounded by entrepreneurial minds that inspire me everyday. Seeing how hard they work and what they are achieving, drives me to try and achieve my own dreams. I love pottery and I want to leave my mark on the industry by creating beautiful products that bring a little joy to people everyday.

Do you have a philosophy that you follow?

Good mugs for good people! I hope that by choosing to have my mugs produced in Stoke-on-Trent (the original ceramic capital of the world), I will help, in a small way, the local community who know the traditional craft. Bringing manufacturing back to the UK can help create awareness that we have great skills in this country, which is sometimes forgotten in this mass-produced age.

The mugs are designed by Katrina and made in Stoke-on-Trent.The mugs are designed by Katrina and made in Stoke-on-Trent.

Where do your designs begin, and how do you develop them into the finished product?

I think pottery is very personal, especially mugs, and I want everyone with a Qtique mug to feel that connection. My aim is to create original, practical and beautiful products. My original mug shape, which is the base for all my products, took nearly a year to mock up, test and develop as I had to trial many different manufacturing processes and materials. The traditional method used to make the mugs means it is hard-wearing and is crafted to stand the test of time. When I am designing, I like to go into full creative mode and focus for two to three weeks solid. I find this a lot more productive than trying to fit it within a busy daily schedule.

What is your favourite part of the process?

The creative process is the most fun part, as this is where I get to interact with customers and get real feedback. This is so important to my designs and I am fortunate to have such an engaged audience – I want to make sure I am making something people will love to have in their homes.

Katrina blends 'traditional shapes with simplicity and functionality'.Katrina blends 'traditional shapes with simplicity and functionality'.

What do you fill your mug with?

Tea! I don’t seem to function without it. I’ve recently found this brilliant tea infuser that fits perfectly in Qtique mugs, so I’ve been making the most glorious cups of English breakfast loose-leaf tea.

What’s the best thing to dunk?

I truly believe there is no better match than a cup of tea with freshly dunked digestive biscuit!

The 'C Alphabetty mug'.The 'C Alphabetty mug'.

What is your favourite design in the range and why?

Although I’m really excited about the new ranges I have been working on, and of course I am very fond of darling Muggsie, I think the original ‘K Alphabetty Mug’ I first created will always be my absolute favourite!

Where do you see Qtique in the future?

I have a new range of mugs coming next year and I plan to keep delivering my tiny treasures to happy customers worldwide. I believe strongly in organic growth and I want to make sure I am creating a brand that will stand the test of time. I’m looking to expand into other homeware items too, but mugs will always be my first love.

If, like us, you need a Muggsie in your life, head over to Great British Life to discover the full range.

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