When it comes to form meeting function, there may be no objet d’art more thrilling than something designed to contain the barely containable: liquid. Mugs and jugs, though simple in function, are endlessly mutable in design, shape, color, and material, with quirks and kinks and fun little details that make the humblest containers something special. Which also makes a mug or jug a perfect gift: You never really need another one… but you also will always find a way to add one to the rotation. From water carafes to chic tea pourers, from delicate little cups to hefty mugs that nestle perfectly in your hands, there’s no wrong way to gift one of these vessels.
This darling cup has an organic, unfinished body but a smooth, paint-coated arm, making it a delight to hold — the extra-long handle helps, too — and sip from. The playful shapes are just enough to make it more interesting than your average, solid-colored ceramic mug.
A milky-colored jadeite imparts a comforting sense of nostalgia, which makes this otherwise simple Mosser glass mug — sturdy, reliable, not too heavy or light — a noteworthy purchase, one that adds a vintage vibe to any kitchen.
Take a second, close your eyes, and think of your most fashionable friend. Got it? Okay — this water pitcher is for them. There may be no more stylish jug ever created, and you can bet that even the clotheshorse who has everything does not yet have it.
The only thing more soothing than sitting down for a cup of tea may be sitting down with an entire pitcher, poured from this smooth, delicately shaped vessel into little matching cups. For the person who loves entertaining, this is an impressively beautiful set to present.
Price: $75 and $42
We can’t guarantee that buying this Japanese-designed glass carafe will turn you (or your most dehydrated friend) into the kind of person who keeps a carafe of cool water on their nightstand for routine hydration in its classiest form, but we can’t guarantee it won’t…
Like a joyfully bonkers project created by an art school student, this mug is all color-outside-the-lines energy. Each hand-splattered mug, created by ceramic artist Brooke T. Winfrey, is a little bit different, but all bring a sense of cheer to the simplest of forms.
If the “wacky” mug is a bit too wacky for your recipient’s taste, the “Blur” mug is probably up their aesthetic alley. (For the art students out there, the vibe is a little Helen Frankenthaler meets Franz Kline.) In soft shades of black and white and with a C-shaped handle, this mug is elegant without feeling stuffy or serious.
Tom Dixon’s flashy aesthetic — reflective, high-gloss metallics; oversized globular design — is most obvious in his lighting and furniture pieces. But it’s a little more accessible in the form of this slender brass jug, which has a hefty look but is totally light and manageable.
Clutching a mug — wrapping your hands around its warm curves, interlacing your fingers just so — is part of the delight of drinking from one. This cup, with its circular “knuckle” handle, is particularly inviting.
From a distance, this hand-blown carafe — designed by Japanese-Italian studio MIST-O — looks as if it’s already filled with colored liquid. But that’s just a masterfully executed illusion: the Tequila Sunrise jug, shown here in deep amber, balances its delicate neck and thin handles with blocks of color as welcome as any ray of light.
Yes, a lot stoneware pottery sports a certain high-gloss sheen, but for wheel-thrown pottery, glaze with a bit of texture brings out its beauty. Burkleman’s stoneware pitchers achieve that expertly, and can double as either drinking containers or flower vases, allowing your recipient decide what pride of place it deserves in their home.
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