Fine china—the delicate, sometimes finicky dinnerware long associated with marriage registers and your grandmother’s closet—has found a new, more relaxed place at the table.
Whether it’s a Herend soup dish decorated with a wild boar or a gilded Lenox dessert plate rimmed with a Greek key pattern, fans of the use of fine china, usually made of china, say it makes everyday meals much more festive. than the minimalist pottery popular in recent years ever could.
Laura Chautin, 29, a Manhattan-based artist, said her time at home made her use her “good plates” more.
“I now use the plates I had saved every day,” says Ms. Chautin, who has also created a collection of porcelain dinnerware with delicate floral patterns. “It just feels special – why not use things that make you happy every day?”
First made in China, the earliest form of porcelain dates back to the Tang Dynasty. There appeared later, in the 13th century, hard-paste porcelain, the kind used to this day. Revered for its translucent quality, hard-paste porcelain was originally made from a mixture of kaolin, a soft white clay, and feldspar rock, fired at a temperature of about 2650 degrees Fahrenheit — a recipe that, from the 16th century onwards, European potters obsessively tried and failed to master it.
By the 18th century, German alchemist Johann Friedrich Böttger discovered the formula, and hard-paste porcelain began to be manufactured both in Europe and Asia. The history of the material has inspired current makers such as Marc Armitano Domingo, 26, who lives in Manhattan and started his company Armitano Domingo Ceramics, formerly known as Botticelli Ceramics, in 2016.
“Once I found out how crazy, intricate and interesting porcelain history was, I was just completely hooked,” said Mr. Domingo, who makes plates, trays and cups that often incorporate botanical motifs. Last July he completed his first assignment for a complete service including plates for twenty set tables.
It has also inspired porcelain collectors, including Rachel Tashjian, 32, a writer and fashion critic in Brooklyn, who began collecting porcelain after receiving a set of Haviland porcelain from her grandmother when Ms. Tashjian was in his twenties. “There’s a sense that this is something you can learn about, and there’s a scholarship for it,” she said.
Ms. Tashjian agreed that the desire to make every meal more festive permeates those who casually use fine china. “People want to be frivolous in small ways,” she said. “We’re starting to value pleasure more.”
She has used her Haviland plates, which are decorated with a pink and gold rose pattern, for dinner parties with friends. “I’d make spaghetti or just order pizza, but using the china would create a sense of occasion beyond let’s all hang out together and drink or watch a movie.”
Michele Mirisola, 31, a Brooklyn artist who owns a set of gilded Homer Laughlin plates, agrees that “if you don’t party so much in restaurants and bars, fine china” is one way to classify what you do at home. .”
Inspired by the colors of Delft pottery, a style of Dutch tin-glazed pottery, Mrs. Mirisola has created a collection of patterned clay tableware in a blue and white palette for her line Chell Fish.
According to Dayna Isom Johnson, a trend expert at Etsy, 2021 saw a 39 percent increase in searches for fine china on the site compared to 2020, and a 28 percent increase in searches for antique and vintage china tableware.
Dawn Block, eBay’s vice president of collectibles, electronics and the home, said that site has seen a similar increase. “Since this time last year, eBay has seen a significant increase in searches and sales for porcelain and china brands, including Lenox, Noritake and Herend,” she said.
China of heritage brands is also making its way into more marriage registries. Lauren Kay, the executive editor of The Knot, a wedding resource website that allows couples to create registries, said site users’ interest in creators like Bernardaud, Royal Copenhagen, Wedgwood and Richard Ginori is so high she hasn’t seen it since 2018. †
There is also an increased demand for fine china at some thrift stores.
Elise Abrams, 71, the owner of Elise Abrams Antiques in Great Barrington, Mass., began collecting porcelain plates in the 1970s. Her shop, which opened in 1989, sells a range of china decorated with motifs ranging from flowers to fish and game. Lately, she’s noticed an increase in customers looking for it.
“More young people are coming in who are excited and say, ‘Now it’s time, I’m bored and I want to set the table,’” said Ms Abrams, who organizes her shop by color. (For the past year, she said turquoise-colored pieces have sold particularly well.)
At Vintage Thrift Shop in Manhattan, Lisa Haspel, the store manager, also notes a growing interest in the Chinese inventory, which typically includes pieces from brands such as Rosenthal, Limoges, Wedgwood, Minton and Spode. Her client used to be older, but that has changed, she says.
“Now it just sells to everyone,” said Ms. Haspel, 59. “It’s just very popular.”
Of course, the casual use of fine porcelain has long been a part of everyday life for some. Maryline Damour, 52, an interior designer living in Kingston, NY, grew up in Haiti and said it was customary for her family to set two formal tables a day. She continued this ritual, using china from her mother’s home in Haiti, as well as pieces she bought from antique stores in Kingston.
“I’ve never saved stuff for special occasions,” said Mrs. Damour. “I have a set of CB2, but the rest is English porcelain, such as Wedgwood and Royal Doulton. It’s just what I have, so I use it all the time.”
All Consuming is a column about things we see – and now want to buy.