What's in a cup? Gaining a new appreciation for beautifully crafted cups.

Wednesday, 21 March, 2018

The Coffee Magazine is exploring Melbourne for the incredible Global Edition of the Almond Breeze Latte Art Video Challenge and one of the things we've noticed is the quality and variation of the ceramics. That got us thinking about some of our favourite local ceramic producers, one of whom is Love Milo.

Taking daily inspiration from her surroundings, designer, Nicki Ellis,  translates the gratitude she has for earthy elements into nature-inspired designs. All her designs come to life using sustainable manufacturing practices, including the use of only eco-friendly inks and the sourcing of alien wood.  Nicki’s whole philosophy is to bring nature into people’s homes and into their daily activities. "When you have your morning coffee, why not incorporate nature and beauty into it?  Re-connecting with nature and appreciating it’s gift to us, is so important, now more than ever! "

She has also always been fascinated with the Japanese Tea Ceremony or Sado, as the Japanese treat their tea as ART–  this cultural ritual was the inspiration for her large tea cups and saucers, so that tea lovers could connect with the values of kindness, humility, discipline and simplicity, which is represented in the Japanese Tea Ceremony. 

“Beautiful things inspire a person, but instead of putting these things onto walls to admire from a distance, why not make it a part of everything we do.  When we drink our morning coffee, why not incorporate beauty into this? Why not make this a process of interacting with art? What a good way to start the day,” says Ellis, who is the designer behind Love Milo products. It was these questions that motivated Ellis to resign from her job in the advertising world in 2010, where she felt she created for others as part of a mechanical process, and instead began to experiment with her own designs and fascination with the imperfection of nature. This curiosity and desire to make naturally beautiful things, started when Nicki was pregnant with her son, Milo, who is the inspiration behind the company name.

“You will never find a straight line in nature, so my designs are about finding the harmony between line and form; juxtaposing the imperfect elements with handmade elements to create something unique. In today’s world, many don’t have the time to stop and enjoy nature, so the aim with Love Milo is to find the beauty in the outdoors and bring it to you through our designs in every day accessories.”  

Nicki’s process begins with photographing elements of nature that have striking patterns. Sometimes this begins in her own backyard, when Milo brings her a variety of interesting creatures he has found in the garden, like dragon flies and butterflies. “I look for the smallest detail in the elements, like the wings of the dragonfly or the pattern of a branch that I find while on a walk; and then photograph these in a light box.  Next, I play with the imagery in black and white, as this speaks to the minimalist approach to our designs.” 

Further to the backyard, Ellis and Finch spend a lot time in the outdoors, where they come across elements that stir up the creativity for a design. For example, they have found the Cecilia Forest in Newlands to be a great place for finding the intricate patterns in nature. “It can be something so simple, like the minute details in a leaf or the imperfect shape of a stone,” says Ellis. Travelling is also a sure way for Ellis and Finch to pick up on the beauty of nature’s design. They have found the Namibian dessert to be a particularly wonderful place for this. In fact, Namibia is where Love Milo’s very first branch and bird designs were born. 

Although the brands signature style is black and white, Ellis brings in certain spots of colour that are found in nature to enhance a design.  Currently, shades of green and indigo, inspired by the Agate stone, can be found across different products, and Ellis is now beginning to play with a pink and gold in a new range of cups and saucers.  

Her hope for those who interact with Love Milo products is to enjoy the benefits of being surrounded by the beauty of nature and to feel energised when interacting with them. “Our designs are quite visually surprising, which I like. When placed against a white wall or clean background for example, the designs definitely catch your eye.” 

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