The entire ACID team are extremely proud to have Nicola Swann, owner of Made With Mud, as a member. She exemplifies the type of designer we are here to support. A small or lone design business who has innovated society with her carefully thought-out design, which fills space in the market for a much-needed product.
Nicola’s designs have gone viral on social media platforms, namely TikTok and Instagram, and rightfully so! She is a wheel thrown potter working with clay to create glazed mugs. Working in her garden pottery studio, alongside her studio dog, Buddy, in Lincolnshire, Nicola has been throwing mud for 10 years, gently building her business and honing her skills. She hit on an opportunity, creating a specialised mug for a friend, which called for particular design features with larger handles for using with reduced physical movement.
Nicola continued developing this initial idea to create a range of mugs which supported people with a variety of physical disabilities. A large mug with double large handles for more support, if they have less strength in one arm. A mug with one large handle and a smaller pincer handle for people who just need a little hand support on one side rather than a full handle, which can also a help for people who feel more comfortable using a pinch hold. Some mugs come with a weighted base, so they are more stable and less likely to accidently push over if the user has tremors. There is a mug design with a cut out space in the rim for people with reduced head movement and they all feature lowered handles so a silicone lid can be added.
Most accessible cup designs look like plastic baby cups, but Nicola’s designs give dignity back to people with different physical needs. Her ingenuity and skill have birthed a products which are aesthetically pleasing and beautiful but have the perfectly designed functionality to specifically serve the needs of the user. This is what exceptional design is all about.
Nicola’s rise in visibility and popularity has meant her designs have been picked up by news outlets such as BBC and MSN News. Her DigniTEA mugs are so desired that they are flying off the shelves and she is working hard on restocking them constantly. Nicola has also set up a fantastic initiative, to support the right people getting the mugs they need. Anyone can donate a mug to another person by clicking here and filling in a form to donate a mug to someone else.
Though Nicola has mainly had positive reactions, she has also had others commenting on the desire to emulate or copy her products and designs. Therefore, Nicola has registered her designs. As an Anti Copying In Design (ACID) member she has also lodged her designs on our IP Databank, has support from our legal affiliates should she need them and promotes the concept of respect and ethics in design, which is to be a responsible designer and not copy original design. She also adds the ‘Member of ACID’ logo to her email signature as the all-important sign of deterrence against would-be copyists throughout all her communications.
Nicola Swann, Owner of Made With Mud, said, “I found myself completely overwhelmed having gone viral in the millions on several platforms with my DigniTEA mugs. It was evident very early on that I needed to protect my designs. I had spent years researching, testing, and adapting my mugs and was investing heavily. As soon as they became popular, I immediately had problems. I contacted and subsequently joined ACID and got myself piece of mind knowing that my designs were locked in the IP database.”
Nicola’s insight and design awareness is an inspiring story. She creatively problem-solved a gap in the market and a space within society, designing the solution with her skill and acumen. People with different physical needs can now feel dignified enough to drink in company without feeling like they rely on a medical aid.
A random selection of commentators on Nicola’s posts demonstrates just how innovative and desired her designs are:
“As an occupational therapist, I love seeing this! Maintaining dignity and a sense of normalcy is so important to my patients. Excellent work!”
“Thank you for the dignity you’re helping provide to people. They’re tremendous. You’re tremendous.”
“As a speech language pathologist who works with people who have swallowing disorders, THIS IS SO SO SO INCREDIBLE!!! Dining with dignity.”
“I’m a Speech Language Pathologist and I work with adults that have dysphasia (swallowing difficulty). The cups we have in the states are ugly. I haven’t ever come across coffee mugs like yours! They are beautiful and functional! I will absolutely recommend them to families I work with!!!”
“This is the most beautiful expression of skilled craft I have seen in ages. People making for people.”
“Oh this is brilliant!! I work with arthritic patients, and they don’t want to drink tea out of plastic cups.”
Made With Mud