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This $4 mug is the perfect design object

Confessions of a mug obsessive

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One of my fundamental beliefs about interior design is this: Mugs are the perfect design object. They are practical, portable, affordable, and often beautiful. They are carriers of comfort in the form of hot chocolate or tea and easy to store in even tiny kitchens.

If the last few sentences haven’t made it clear, I’m a bit of a mug obsessive. When I counted earlier this week, I found 20 mugs in my kitchen cabinets—and I live alone and have never had more than 10 people in my apartment at a time.

So I’ve spent (probably too much) time thinking about what makes a mug perfect. It has to be thick enough not to burn my hand, but not too heavy. Tall enough for a full cup of tea (with milk), but not so tall that the tea has cooled before I zone out or get to the bottom. And it must be whimsical or artful enough to brighten up a cold morning or a mid-afternoon slump.

By these criteria, my favorite mugs are not the fancy museum gift shop pieces or the vacation souvenirs or the thanks-for-your-donation rewards—but a few $4 mugs from Ikea.

My particular Ikea mugs are the Tickar, which have been discontinued, but Ikea makes several others in a similar size and pattern. They look stylish but aren’t so precious that it would be devastating to break one, and they’re the exact right size for drinking all the tea before it gets cold.

I own four—so far.

Sara Polsky is the features editor at Curbed.