After my remodel was complete my mother gave me a set of white dishes as a kitchen-warming gift. It’s a simple style called, evocatively, “Italian Countryside.” It’s heavier than traditional china, which is good because I bang things around a bit. And it can look traditional or modern, “Italian Countryside” or “English Manor House,” depending on how you dress up the table.
Of course I shattered one of the coffee cups even before I had the whole set unpacked, and bought replacement cups with the same bright glaze but a different style. I like the notion of a mismatched set, and the idea that as I break other dishes, which is inevitable, I can replace them with different pieces. Then, as a very old lady, I’ll have a gorgeous set of entirely mismatched pieces.
I’m always on the lookout for plates and bowls to add. ABC sells old-fashioned, hand-thrown white ceramic pieces with a glaze that lets the texture of the raw clay show through.
The store also sells a set designed by Jan Burtz that’s so light the pieces feel as if they’re made of vapor.
Bennington Potters makes hand-thrown pottery that’s handsome and much less precious. The pieces have a nice irregularity to them, and a hippieish, mottled glaze.
I’d love to mix in some super-modern pieces. This set by Thomas at Rosenthal has a rigorous sense of geometry.
These modern plates and bowls from CB2 are less fussy, and awfully pretty.
And I’d like to break it up with a few accent pieces that have graphics and maybe even a splash of color. Fornasetti make plates stamped with their signature engraving-style portraits. These are pretty fabulous.
And how awesome would it be to serve after-dinner coffee from this pot:
The most beautiful white ceramic pieces I know are by Ted Muehling. They vary in size and style but all have a breathtaking fineness in their finish and proportions. These cups have such simple, resonant profiles.
Many of Meuhling’s pieces are based on natural objects like shells, coral, butterflies and eggs. They feel both contemporary and ancient, scientific and surreal. Look at this bird’s wing dish and this tree branch candle holder. In the hands of any another designer they would turn to kitsch. But Muehling creates elegant centerpieces that would be the focal point of any all-white collection.