How do you take your coffee?

Mindy Doke and colleague holding HCMA mugs glazed in eggplant across a wooden workbench with a tub of glaze and unfired mugs scattered around.

When we unveiled our new brand identity in the spring of 2021, updating traditional assets—business cards, letterhead, and notebooks—was fundamental.

But we didn’t stop there. 

For many of us, our morning beverage is the cornerstone of a good day. It’s the first to-do checked off, the quick pick-me-up, an impromptu conversation with a colleague. Evolving our office mugs was a natural canvas to apply our curiosity as part of our rebrand.

Aligning to our brand values

Whether we realize it or not, the objects we use in our daily life communicate a feeling. For the brand experience to align with our vision and values, we looked to infuse our assets with a human quality. When we considered our office mug, we saw an opportunity to get closer to the craft, the source of how a thing is made. And by whom.

Through a collaborative process with three local potters, our new mug is a sharp departure from the glossy mass-produced product that previously occupied our cupboard. In its place sits an organic and hand-crafted artifact, charming in its inconsistency.

Finished in four colour ways; teal, purple, aqua and tangerine, hcma-ers are free to select the mug-sterpiece that matches their mood, soul, or outfit.

Mug work in progress sketch.
Mindy Doke taking an hcma mug out of its mould. hcma ceramic mugs drying on a shelf before they are ready for firing. Mindy Doke smoothing moulded ceramic mugs with a sponge and water.
Meet the makers

The mug is a collective investment of five disciplines: graphics, prototyping, hand throwing, mold making, and slip casting.

Over her 15-year career, local artisan Cathy Terepocki‘s diverse practice has included exhibiting, teaching, designing, and producing ceramics. Her desire to create ‘thoughtful, storied objects’ aligned with our vision for the project.

Referencing our logo’s 3:4 ratio and rounded rectangle shape, colloquially ‘squr-cle’, the mug shape was developed through a process of mock-ups produced iteratively with laser cut and 3D printed prototypes in-house. The first model, thrown on a pottery wheel by Cathy, endowed a final grip that felt natural in-hand. When we considered the need to produce over 200 individual mugs, and its distinctive vertical sides not well-suited to wheel throwing, the recommendation to utilize a model for production was taken.

To facilitate the second step of production, Cathy introduced us to Russell Hackney. A Vancouver-based ceramic mold maker.

A slip cast mould of the hcma mug made by Russell Hackney. Russell Hackney working on the master mould for the hcma ceramic mug. Russell Hackney carving the hcma logo into the master positive to make slip cast moulds.

Originally from Stockholm-Trent, Russell was born into a family of ceramic craftsmen in a town known for its porcelain production. Using the master hand-thrown mug from Cathy, Russell began the process of further refining the cup to include a hand-carved hcma logo on the face and an artist’s mark on the bottom. Utilizing a slip casting technique, where a liquid clay (slip) is poured into a plaster cavity to form a cast on its walls, Russell was able to create a mold to use for production.

Mindy Doke, owner of Hazy Pottery in Vancouver, is the last member of the artisanal trio. Born into a family of potters, Mindy was responsible for casting, firing, sanding, glazing, firing again, and finishing touches. A testament to her process, each mug was touched by Mindy at least eight times. The finished product feels personal, because it is.

A love letter to craftsmanship, the project was an opportunity to celebrate the tactile and hand-made; a unique privilege to explore the manifestation of our brand with local makers with world-class portfolios of work.

The result, a mug. Uniquely hcma in character and the biproduct of curiosity, applied.  

A series of colourfully dipped mugs fresh out of the kiln.
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