Matte Green Cafe-ERGO Porcelain Cup

The design of Gerald Haessig's Cafe-ERGO coffee mug (pictured in matte green porcelain) won the Golden Award of Merit at the Invention and New Product Exposition (INPEX) in 2017.

Artist, potter, and glassblower Gerald Haessig has developed a new product that’s both functional and fashionable: the Cafe-ERGO coffee mug, a sturdy, ergonomic porcelain cup that can hold up to 10 ounces of coffee, tea, soup or ice cream.

A member of the Dutch Alley Artist’s Co-op in the French Market, where he is the featured artist of the month for July, Haessig developed the idea for the cup when his colleagues and fellow artists suggested that he create a unique coffee mug that could serve as a keepsake for the many tourists and locals who visit the market.

After research on patenting and ergonomic design, along with consultations with his own chiropractor and several physical therapists, he created the original design, which is available for both left- and right-handed individuals. The microwave- and dishwasher-safe vessel is double-walled for insulation and is designed to fit in the palm of the hand, which relieves stress on the fingers and joints. Instead of a traditional handle, Haessig applies a crescent-shaped, notched flange.

Though he has been a professional artist for about 25 years, Haessig says he’s still on a learning curve. Developing the design of the mug and the entrepreneurial skills to distribute it taught him a lot, and in 2017, it earned him the Golden Award of Merit at the Invention and New Product Exposition (INPEX), the largest American invention trade show.

Haessig makes the mugs using small-scale production techniques, and each one is hand-glazed.

“I am slip-casting them in small batches to get the basic double-walled silhouette,” he says. “The flange is also slip-cast, then hand-applied to the body of the cup.” The mugs are then dipped in glaze, or the glaze is hand-applied, and fired twice. The cups emblazoned with the “NOLA” decal are fired a third time.

“I’ve learned a lot along the way, and still have a way to go,” he says. “But the cup is a great new design and offers relief to those with hand issues.”

Haessig, who also works with clay, glass, stoneware and raku, mostly makes functional pottery, though some of the pieces are decorative. He is working on expanding the line to include other ergonomic and user-friendly items.

The mug is available at the Dutch Alley Artist’s Co-op (912 N. Peters St., 504-412-9220), Zele NOLA (2841 Magazine St., 504-450-0789) and online at www.cafe-ergo.com.

As the featured artist of the month, Gerald Haessig will discuss his art at the gallery every Sunday in July, as well as Friday, July 19 and Friday, July 26. Dutch Alley Artist’s Co-op is open daily.

Follow Sarah Ravits on Twitter: @sravits.