Revisiting the Playful Dombo Mug by Richard Hutten
Kids & Baby
Dutch designer Richard Hutten, who designed the playful Dombo child’s mug back in 2002, recently explained how the distinctive shape of the mug came to be. “If someone’s an idiot, you call him a domoor,” Hutten explains. “It’s sort of swearing in a friendly way. Then I had to translate it and I thought that Dombo sounded similar, and it reminds you of this stupid elephant with big ears,” he laughs, when describing the colorful mug with the oversized ‘ear’ handles.
Created for the Dutch brand, Gilpen, Dombo’s distinctive handles, almost as large as the cup itself, were aimed at the unsteady hands of little ones, who could easily grasp the cup with both hands, and drink without spilling its contents. Hutten’s own son, only 2 years old at the time, was inspiration for his father’s jolly, colorful design. “I thought it would be nice to make a mug where the drinking movement is really exaggerated,” he explains.
Since its introduction in 2002, over half a million Dombo mugs have been sold, which, though surprising to the designer himself, he credits to the joyful nature of the design—and to the fact that the mug is more of a technological marvel than its simple profile might indicate. Dombo’s technical specifications—namely that the mug’s injection-moulded polypropylene form, a merging of thick, solid plastic handles and thin container, requires a mould that’s more complex than standard moulds. That very fact may explain why the mug hasn’t spawned an abundance of cheap knock-offs.
Richard Hutten can rightfully take satisfaction in the continuing popularity of his Dombo kids’ mug. “For me, the best thing is that it makes people smile and it makes people happy when they see it.”