There are some things that stand above trends. Take dinnerware, which is usually collected and passed on to future generations. It elevates any meal – even pizza – and carries with it years of nostalgia.
If a quality pattern or design goes out of style, you can trust that it’s only temporary. Russel Wright’s 1937 Bauer Pottery, for example, is being reproduced to keep up with the ongoing interest in early-modern and midcentury modern American design.
If the Bauer designs are “midcentury,” how will this decade be remembered in china? Today’s dinnerware has so much variety: gold and platinum edging, colorful patterns, squares and octagon shapes, vintage-reproduction designs. Even high art is coming to dinner, as with a release from Bernadaud that celebrates sketches by painter Marc Chagall that inspired 12 stained-glass windows in a Jerusalem medical center.
We talked to interior designers, buyers and store owners about the china patterns that speak to them right now – and will still be talking later.
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“The bottom line is to go with what you like,” says designer Kelley Proxmire, who has collected china since 1979. Because true style is transcendent.
Here’s what our group of experts wanted to talk about:
1. “People are definitely looking for color,” writes Michelle Westcott-Richards, spokeswoman for Waterford, Wedgwood and Royal Doulton. “For so long, it was just white and platinum.” For something that’s colorful and feels a bit vintage, there’s Anthropologie’s Old Havana Dinnerware stoneware in mint ($18, www.anthropologie.com).
2. Some of the top-trending patterns for spring/summer include blue/white combinations, florals and stripes. For a preppy, painterly take on blue and white, try the Charlotte Street Dinner Plate ($22, www.katespade.com).
3. Fashion and home designers have long tried their hands at china patterns. Vera Wang’s Gilded Weave place setting is a new release from Wedgwood (dinner plate $35, www.wedgwood.com). This pattern is a neutral with interest – good for pairing with other patterns, even heirloom ones. “Our customers love to mix vintage and new pieces to create a truly unique table,” writes Sarah Kauffman, director of merchandising for online store One Kings Lane, in an e-mail.
4. Oscar de la Renta has released its stoneware Pavilion Dinner Plate in the color Lettuce, in addition to ivory and indigo ($38, www.oscardelarenta.com). “Layering is a great way to put a fresh spin on traditional pieces and tailor the table to suit the occasion,” Kauffman writes. Pair a salad bowl with this octagonal plate.
5. Jasper Conran, son of famed British designer Terence Conran, has designed a number of china patterns for Wedgwood over the years, but the shapes and sizes generally stay the same. This means one can layer or alternate his newer Gold-Banded Plate with a chinoiserie-inspired, white, or striped plate for a particularly boho look. ($42, www.wedgwood.com).
6. Proxmire has had many china collections, but one that endures for her is the classic blue-and-white combination. “I snap up blue-and-white pieces from wherever I travel,” she says. “All different countries: France, Italy, Germany, Japan, Holland, Prague.” For everyday plates that recall the architecture and colors of Greece, try the Perlée Dinner Plate in blue (also available in white, gold, and platinum) porcelain ($64, www.l-objet.com).
7. Kelly Wearstler’s Mulholland dinner plate design for American company Pickard China is inspired by her Channels wallpaper ($126, www.kellywearstler.com). “The triangles in the pattern are floating out in space,” Englert says.
If you fear that something so bold will date fast, Proxmire advises, “You can get something really colorful and then lay it down later with something really neutral.”
8. “I love the Hermès plates,” Proxmire says of the Bleus d’Ailleurs pattern. “I bought it in blue and white for myself for cocktail hour,” she says (dinner plate $155, usa.hermes.com). Proxmire says this pattern is a “collector’s item of the future.”
9. If you can’t decide on just one pattern, then mix and match. “It’s okay to mix one plate from one manufacturer and put it with a dinner plate from another manufacturer,” says Englert, who has 13 china patterns at home. “That’s the French way, anyway.” The formal Aegean Dinner Plate in porcelain and platinum would go especially well with patterns that have gold in them ($240, www.l-objet.com).
10. “Incorporating art is a cutting-edge way to add patterns to your table setting,” writes Emily Hull-Martin, Bloomingdale’s fashion director for home, in an e-mail. French porcelain manufacturer Bernadaud interprets designs that Russian artist Marc Chagall sketched in 1959 for stained-glass windows ($570 for a set of six porcelain dinner plates, www.bloomingdales.com).