A buyers guide to dinnerware
Let's face it dinnerware or crockery is a major factor in bringing every day style to your dining, however that may look. In this day and age, it is not always about being sat around the table at the same time, but when you do, you want to be able to present your food in the best possible way. Remember people taste their food with their eyes first and this is where your crockery choices can make a difference!
The days of unpacking your finest bone china twice per year and spending the whole time worrying about what gets broken are long gone. With our busy lifestyles, adaptability is key, every day style, whether formal or relaxed.
With this in mind here are our top five tips for buying crockery:
1/ Consider the Materials
Earthenware is perhaps one of the oldest forms of dinnerware, dating back as far as 25,000 years BC! It is characterised by being more rustic in appearance and is made from unrefined clay, producing a courser finish than say porcelain. Fired at a lower temperature than other forms of dinnerware, typically bellow 1200 degrees C, it tends to be bulkier than stoneware to give it strength. It is durable, but not as strong as stoneware or porcelain and is therefore considered slightly more fragile. Earthenware is typically the most affordable dinnerware and is perfect for everyday use.
Stoneware is perhaps the sweet spot in terms of cost, durability and style. When compared to earthenware, it is a relatively modern material, dating back to 1400BC(!) and is fired at higher temperatures. This produces a more resistant finish, that doesn't require glazing to be waterproof. Made from refined clay, a smoother, denser finish is achieved, giving it a 'stone like' quality. The result is a more durable product that is perfect for every day use, but can also be used for more laid back formal dining.
"Stoneware is perhaps the sweet spot in terms of cost, durability and style."
The Bastia Stoneware collection in a black glaze
Porcelain is very hard wearing, fired at very high temperatures, creating a smooth white surface before glazing, which is more refined in its look and touch. Perfectly suited to the modern world, porcelain can cope with the busy kitchen, typically being dishwasher and microwave proof. Porcelain is a good choice for more formal occasions, but there is no reason why porcelain wares shouldn't be used every day.
The Amelie plate by Lene Bjerre in porcelain
As its name suggests, Bone china adds a bone content of at least 30 percent, creating a more delicate finish, which is very durable. Bone china is suited to more ornate decorative designs and more classically will be brought out on special occasions only!
2/ Types of Plate to buy
There are a number of things to consider when buying dinnerware. The days of buying a full set with six of every plate and 2 spares are long gone. Most crockery can be bought piece by piece (this is how we like to do it), so you can prioritise your every day plates, such as dinner plates and desert bowls. Then add plates such as side plates and serving bowls to build a set suitable for more formal occasions.
Remember many plates can be used interchangeably, a soup bowl can be a desert bowl, a side plate can be used to serve desert, or a lighter meal.
As an example our Vince Stoneware Collection consists of dinner plates, side plates, soup bowls and a serving platter.
3/ Dinnerware to suit your lifestyle
We think lifestyle is one of the most important considerations when buying dinnerware and be honest with yourself! Buying a large formal dinnerware service, of the finest bone china, with ornate design and every thing perfectly matching is a large investment. If you are spending time worrying about items getting damaged every time you use them, this probably isn't a wise purchase. Likewise if you are only bringing out the collection once per year, it is probably not the best way to tie up your money!
There is always a place for a formal occasion or special event and if you are in a position to reserve a special dinnerware service for such occasions and you have the space to store it, why not? It is a perfectly reasonable thing to do.
Every day use
Most people do not consciously divide their lifestyles up into formal and less formal occasions on a day to day basis. With the fast pace of modern life, meal times are flexible and not necessarily eaten at the dining room table. Most days you are only likely to use a fraction of your dinnerware, but being able to effortlessly scale up to larger family gatherings and dinner parties is important.
"Most people do not consciously divide their lifestyles up into formal and less formal occasions on a day to day basis"
Remember, not everything has to match. One way to avoid anxiety over breakages is simply to mix and match styles, this creates a laid back dining experience that works for a modern dinner party as well as day to day.
Individuality over Uniformity
Artisan and hand fired pieces tend to have individual finishes. Capturing natures unique imperfections creates individuality and makes every piece a talking point. Taking a lead from Scandinavian living, reflecting nature in our interior designs is perfect for modern, environmentally conscious every day living.
4/ Care Guide
As you narrow your search for dinnerware, it is worth considering the practicalities of how you will look after your dinnerware:
Will your dinnerware fit in the dishwasher? Is it dishwasher proof, or hand wash only? You want to keep your dinnerware looking great over the long term, so how you keep it looking pristine has to be a consideration.
Is the microwave a regular part of your food preparation? Are you reheating leftovers regularly? If it is you want to make sure your dinnerware is microwave proof. Designs that incorporate more decoration, especially metallic trims are less likely to be suitable for microwaves, but always check the manufacturers guide lines.
Last, but not least consider storage. Quite often this one can be overlooked, but If you are tight for cupboard space, having dinner sets for different occasions might not be for you. Full dinner service sets, require safe storage and take up a lot of space, so more flexible everyday crockery might be a better solution. In some situations dinnerware can be stored on open shelves, so the aesthetic will be particularly important here.
Hopefully this has given you an insight into buying dinnerware and if you require any further information, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.