The K-grips are special to us in more ways than one. They're not just a cornerstone product, they are part of how Stone + Sparrow came to be.
We are often asked how we came up with the K-grip mug. For a while we really didn't have a succinct answer - not because there isn't a history, but because it a living story. A story that began with love... *cue sentimental music*
It all started when my husband, Matt, was in school. He was studying industrial design and I was still working full-time as a project manager. The K-grip was our very first collaboration after embarking on Stone + Sparrow as a side hustle in 2018.
"Can you make this?"
Matt asked, pointing to his sketches. It was interesting. A minimal mug design with a handle like a K. We began brainstorming the details, and I got to work on making some prototypes.
Even while making the first versions, it was clear that the K-grip was special . Before the first couple were even glazed, the "K" intrigued people. In passing, other studio members would comment on the shape and what it might feel like to hold. They immediately picked up on what we had realized only days earlier - its fun to actually grip a mug. So, I started making more.
K-grip design iterations
While the idea behind the mug hasn't changed, it's various forms have. We have used every iteration of these handles, every day, for the past 3 years. After years of using our own prototypes and feedback from friends, we developed the K-grip to be the perfect morning companion.
These were our first two K-grips - you can tell by the coffee stains, and lumpy handles. When I first started making these, I would roll each coil by hand and build the shape. Today, each piece is still hand-thrown and each handle is assembled by hand, but we extrude the coils to save time and build consistency. Consistency in thickness is important aesthetically, but also structurally.
The design is simple in theory, but difficult to execute. Each handle is made by piecing three coils together into one form then attaching it to the body of the mug. The physics of attaching something delicate and asymmetrical in weight is risky business. Make the handle too heavy or attach it while its still soft and the handle could easily sink. Striking the balance just right results in something elegant, gravity defying, and gratifying. Dare we say, gravitifying?
Anyway, since its origin we've continued to test and improve the angles of the branch, balance of the mug weight, distance from the mug body, length of the stems, glaze combinations, etc... searching for that perfect balance. We could talk about it, or better yet - pictures!
Here's a little gallery of how the K-grip has evolved over its lifetime.
So, what's up with the branch thingy?
Yes, the 'K' is a major departure from the traditional handle, but that's what makes it so fun! The branch is a hallmark of minimalism, as well as a homage to nature. A single form, flowing from the body, branching into two directions . This three-way solution is found throughout nature in rivers, plants, and other iconic forms like the Fellow kettle, or peace sign. We are proud to continue the long tradition of branching and true-to-tree character. We will continue reaching out and growing with each iteration.
In the end, we see the K-grip as a reflection of our own story - something that will continue to evolve. It's an reminder of our loving partnership in life, in design and how converging ideas are an integral part of Stone + Sparrow.
Thanks for coming along on this journey with us. We hope you'll stick around for the long-haul and eventually get a grip. A K-grip, that is.