Teacup Styles — Form and Function

Form follows function. At least, that’s what a lot of designers, me included, tend to say and follow. It is as true of teacup styles as it is of User Interface Design (my former profession).

First, it might be good to look at what the functions of a teacup are:

  • To hold tea
  • To drink the tea from

As long as the form is conducive to these functions, then you have a teacup. However, if the form is so fanciful that these functions are not possible (at least, not with fear of physical harm) then you have a teacup that could be merely decoration. Here is one I’ve seen posted a lot online that successfully marries a bit of whimsy in its form and teacup function:

Heart-shaped teacup has been seen around a lot online. (Yahoo! Images)
Heart-shaped teacup has been seen around a lot online. (Yahoo! Images)

Here is a teacup that would be a bit tricky to drink from, since you would have to be sure to put your lips in one of the corners to avoid spillage:

Eastern Star Bone China Teacup and Saucer-Unusual Shape (Yahoo! Images)
Eastern Star Bone China Teacup and Saucer-Unusual Shape (Yahoo! Images)

Some potteries will put a name on their teacup designs. For example, Royal Albert China has shape names like “Avon,” “Corinth,” and “Gainsborough.” See a full list here. You can find other potteries and their shape names here. These shapes are all functional with the added benefit of interesting forms.

When shopping for teacups, keep first in mind the function. If the teacup won’t hold tea well and you can’t drink tea from it, then you had better like it visually as decoration! With so many designs to choose from, you should easily find one that suits you “to a tea.”

Side note: There is one further function of a teacup, and that is for reading tea leaves. According to one tea leaf reader, the shorter, wider teacup with flared sides is best.

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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