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Labor Day Party Ideas: Time for White Platters

The fashion rule that you can’t wear white after Labor Day is meant to be broken. Yet this holiday is frequently a mark of summer’s end and fall’s beginning. School’s back in session and the grill will shortly go back into storage. So make Labor Day a time to relax with friends and family with these easy outdoor party ideas.

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Classic BBQ

Grill hamburgers, hot dogs, or choice steaks. Serve with plenty of sides: potato salad, coleslaw, fruits of the season, and chips and dip. Arrange toppings (sliced cheese, onions, tomatoes, bacon strips, pickle slices, lettuce) for your meats on a large white serving platter for maximum appeal and easy access. Sick of hamburgers? Make this party low-key by marinating chicken the night before for high flavor and limited prep day-of. Whatever you serve, an easy menu will help make the fun last into the evening.

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Potluck Picnic

Collaborative parties mean all you need as the host is serving dishes and a place for them to rest. Divvy up foods so that designated people bring apps, entrées, sides, desserts, and drinks. Or throw caution to the wind and end up with an accidental dessert picnic. Large plates at the start and cutlery in cans or jars at the end makes for an easy buffet line indoors or out. Set up drinks at another station for better traffic flow with groups over 10 people. A few white platters can help corral similar food items together visually.

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Skewer Party

A mix of the traditional bbq and potluck, everyone brings their favorite skewer ingredients. Chop meat into square chunks and veggies thick so they don’t fall off. Put a bunch of wooden skewers into water to soak the night before and you’re ready to go. Have different colored platters for constructed skewers and cooked ones to avoid cross contamination. Here white platters filled with grilled delights look great with sides and salads in bowls. This party idea is great for families with small children; they’ll enjoy constructing skewers as well as pulling off the cooked results. Check out these combinations in a simple-to-follow graphic, including marinades, for inspiration.

skewers on the grill

Grill image courtesy Robert S. Donovan via Compfight cc.

Picnic spread image courtesy Josh Liba via Compfight cc.

Skewer image courtesy joshbousel via Compfight cc.

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Your Favorite Ginger Jars From Around the World

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Ginger jars are a global favorite. Stylish and stunning, they remain a perpetual favorite with Emilia Ceramics customers around the world. Here are some of your (and our!) favorite ginger jars.

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Mexican Ginger Jars

black and white ginger jar - extra large

These tibores combine classic Mexican style with a contemporary twist. People love black and white ginger jars from Talavera Vazquez, whether they feature chevron designs, stripes, or the intricate floral pattern of the Hidalgo tibor. Blue and white ginger jars are another popular category; I particularly love the small chevron tibor from this part of the collection.

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Gorky Gonzalez ginger jars have a different vibe, with a rounder shape and delicate handle detailing. The layered motif of this ginger jar has a distinctly tropical feel, perfect for casual decor.

Italian Ginger Jars

What is the line between canister and ginger jar? I think it has to do with the curve of the vessel’s sides; a canister tends to be straight on the sides, a ginger jar curved. But there are always exceptions to prove the rule. Take this gorgeous vasetto di zenzero from Ceramiche Bartoloni. Used as a vase, shelf decoration, or to hold your stash of ginger, it’s a stunning example of ceramic fusion gone right.

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Spanish Ginger Jars

A recent addition to the collection, this búcaro by Ceramica Valenciana is deceptively simple. People can’t seem get enough of its pure white glaze or graceful lines, let alone its three curving handles. It’s one of my new personal favorites too.

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Where do your favorite ginger jars come from?

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Mother’s Day Celebration at the Boulder Showroom

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Last Saturday we celebrated moms at the Boulder Showroom. I was fortunate enough to have my mom fly in from California to help me prep for the party and join in the festivities. We bought lots of beautiful fresh flowers, rearranged a few of the shop displays, and even added two new tables: A round one dedicated to our Ethiopian Table Linens and French turquoise planters; And a low coffee table which I filled with stacks of Richard’s fun dinner and salad plates.

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It’s always more fun to clean and fix up the shop with company and my mom was a great help! She picked out her favorite pitcher by Sylvie Duriez for me to give her as a Mother’s Day gift — and of course added a few more pieces to her large collection of Gorky’s El Mar pieces. My mom is an expert gardener as well, so I put her to work planting my window boxes outside. (Unfortunately, we had to unplant them later because it snowed the following day! So now I’m trying to keep my flowers alive inside the showroom until it’s safe to plant them outside.)

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When it came time for the party, we used mostly white platters for serving. I love Ceramica Valenciana’s serving platters, which I piled high with muffins and strawberries. I also used one of Gorky’s white platters to arrange a variety of cookies. We served Italian Prosecco with fresh squeezed orange juice and made coffee for our guests as well.

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It was a fun morning with friends stopping by to enjoy a mimosa and admire the new arrivals from France and Italy. The weekend coincided with CU Boulder’s graduation, so we had a few guests from around the country (and one from the UK) who were in town celebrating their children. All in all it was a great day… and I was very glad to have my mom’s help cleaning up afterward!

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Bright Colors, Clean Lines: 3 Ideas to Redecorate and Reinvigorate Your Home this Spring

Spring is about renewal, cleaning, and color. I’m in good company with my love of bright colors for home decor, supported by the likes of Refinery29 and Domino. Looking for ways to enliven your spring cleaning this year? Inspired by my own efforts, here are three ways to make redecorating a pleasure, not a pain:

1. Start small and work outwards. I work from home, so I spend lots of time at my desk. Reorganizing it with colorful bins, finding space for my newest vase, and a new orange ergonomic seat gave me the energy to tackle other, less visible spaces in my home (like the closet). Another great way to get started is to hang a piece of colorful art; it doesn’t take a lot of time and the rewards are immediate.

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2. Try new shades. On the subject of color, now is the time to bring in some brights to your space. Add a few new colorful, patterned pillows to couches or chairs for a refreshed living room. Why not try a vibrant orange, yellow, or green as an echo of the flowers that are starting to bloom? A bold runner enlivens your entry or hallway; the same trick can be used with other colorful carpets throughout your space. If you already decorate with lots of neutrals, start with one color and build out. If you already have a bold color in your palette then pick a complimenting color; crisp blue and white or a strong yellow are good places to start.

blue and white bowls

3. Refresh items you use every day. Redecorating can also be as simple as giving your space a deep clean. Wash your curtains and prepare to be amazed at the difference. The same goes for carpets and furniture (but call in the professionals when necessary). If you’re tired of your current window treatments, look for a new solution (blinds, shades, sheers, different curtains) in a warm color or new pattern. In the kitchen, add some blue and white bowls to your collection. Like to bake? Try a blue and white mixing bowl. Entertain? Serve food for your next party in blue and white bowls in a variety of patterns.

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And my favorite way to add color this spring? Fresh flowers! What are some tricks you use to refresh your home as the weather warms? Leave a comment below and share your favorites.

Room image courtesy of Domino.

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3 Steps to Update Home Decor with Black and White Pattern Mixing

It’s simple: black and white together just pops. From home to runway, there’s a reason this classic color combination is never out of style. They love black and white at Vogue: think bold, graphic prints. They love black and white at Domino for its chic appeal. Here at Emilia Ceramics we love black and white planters, black and white ginger jars, and black and white vases for their versatility. Year in, year out, black and white just looks good.

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But how do you give black and white decor a contemporary twist? Start mixing patterns. Just like in the fashion world, pattern mixing is very much of the moment. If you need help embracing this look with your wardrobe, check out the print mixing guide at Refinery29. Their advice for clothes also translates into your living room, office, bedroom, or kitchen. Here are three steps to make the transition painless:

1. Start with stripes. Black and white stripes can be evenly spaced, thick and thin, wide or narrow… an entire gamut of textures and styles. If mixing prints is new for you, try mixing different kinds of black and white stripes with solid colored pieces. This approach is ideal for pieces like black and white ginger jars.

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2. Add flowers. Colorful floral prints play well with black and white stripes. So do colorful bouquets in black and white vases. Or keep the monochrome vibe going with white blooms in either vases or planters. The best thing about black and white vases? They look just as great full of flowers as they do empty, whether on a shelf or in a special nook.

 

3. Embrace graphic prints of varying sizes and textures. Black and white style looks best when used in a variety of accent types. Add a mix of black and white printed cushions to your sofa and chairs for an instant refresh (they seriously go with almost everything). Herringbone, houndstooth, chevron, polka dots… the pattern possibilities are endless for everything from curtains to desk accessories. Sticking to the clean color palette allows for these patterns to play well with others, giving the room a cohesive (but not overly matchy) feel.

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Have black and white pieces you adore? Share them on our Facebook page. Looking for more black and white inspiration? Check out our black and white favorites on Pinterest.

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Delicious Winter Whites: Gourmet Salads & Chic White Platters

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There’s snow on the ground and suddenly I’m feeling drawn to the pure simplicity of white plates and platters.

As far as I’m concerned, there’s no rule that white must be bland. Take this collection of fresh, modern winter white salad recipes by Ignacio Mattos over at Bon Appétit. Seared scallops with avocado and daikon – divine. Grapefruit and white beets – crisply elegant. Barley and cauliflower with burrata – inspired. These combinations are way beyond mashed potatoes or a side of rice.

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We’re often told that color is the surefire indicator for flavor and nutrition, yet these winter white salads prove that white is anything but boring. The photos of these recipes really stand out (go check them out!) because of the food styling on simple, white plates. I could see these salads showcased on round or oval white platters, the hints of color peeking out from underneath fresh citrus and subtle root vegetables.

The best part about both these recipes and white platters? Their simplicity. Just a few ingredients let real depth shine through — the crisp flavors of endive mixed with toasted walnuts — especially when set against a striking shaped backdrop, like a square white plate or rectangular platter.

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Have you ever made a white salad or an entire monochromatic meal? Leave a comment with your favorite pairings and what you think of this white on white theme for your seasonal salad.

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3 Ways to Chase Away Winter Blues with Ceramic Flower Pots

How do you get rid of wintertime blues? Sunlamps, bright colors, and warm cups of hot chocolate are some favored approaches, as is sprucing up indoor greenery to give your eyes a break from the dreary greys that dominate this time of year. Here are 3 easy ways to refresh your home for 2014 using plants and planters:

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1. Fill up your windows with greenery.

Chase the winter blues away by accenting your home with chic blue and white ceramic flower pots or large planters and window boxes. If you don’t already have blooming indoor plants, add color with ferns, coleus, or forced white azaleas and hydrangeas. Their delicate snowball-like bloom fits the season perfectly. Plants that get western light tend to fare better in the winter, so go all out in your west-facing windows.

2. Tuck plants into unexpected places.

Does your bathroom get any good natural light? Add aloes, bromeliads, and orchids (plants that all love humidity) to countertops, shelves, or by the tub.

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Try air plants if there’s not a good place for a blue and white ceramic flower pot filled; they often just need daily misting. For living or dining rooms, add unexpected greenery by training your favorite vine around the top of the room’s walls. Kitchen windows, breakfast nooks, and bedrooms are also ideal places to add a blue and white planter filled with lush greens.

3. Focus on entry spaces.

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The weather outside is frightful, but a sheltered porch or entryway is a good place to add some color and texture with hearty plants. Decorative grasses, camellias, winterberries, even ornamental kales work wonders placed in blue and white ceramic flower pots. Complimentary colored planters will make your plants really stand out from the dull landscape around you, cheerfully welcoming anyone who comes to your home.

Do you have favorite winter plants? Other ways to chase away the winter blues? Share them in a comment below!

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Bathtub plants image courtesy JohnHedtke.

Camellias image courtesy Jocey K.

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Our Grand Opening Party!

IMG_3943Last Wednesday, we celebrated the official opening of the Boulder Showroom (above). We were so excited by the turnout — lots of new friends (and some old ones) stopped by to see the new Emilia Ceramics headquarters, enjoy some yummy Spanish wine (in honor of the arrival of our Ceramica Valenciana shipment… stay tuned for details) and lots of cheese!

left_window_display_2In preparation for the event, I made my new space holiday-ready, with garlands and lights around the windows, a little Christmas tree in my favorite Mexican planter, and some festive flowers. I received lots of compliments on all I’ve done to make both the outside and inside of the shop feel like a small piece of Provence. The nice sentiments were much appreciated… after the last few months of making 2232 Pearl Street into Emilia Ceramics’ new home, I was feeling pretty proud!

As for refreshments, I decided to keep it simple. I had 3 different types of cheeses (blue, brie, and manchego), grapes, dates, and marcona almonds (are you sensing the Spanish theme?). Oh and cookies of course! For drinks, my guests could choose between Rioja, a Spanish white (which went especially well with the blue cheese), Sauvignon Blanc, sparkling water, fresh water, and Anchorsteam beer (a nod to my San Francisco roots).

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That’s where the fun part began… choosing ceramics to use for serving! I decided on two of my favorite serving platters: Richard Esteban’s Large Cheese Plate in Barn Red and  Ceramiche Bartoloni’s Foglia e Frutta Footed Platter with Angel. I absolutely LOVE Richard’s ceramic cheese platters, regardless of color or size. Each has a rustic individuality that is both subtle (won’t over-shadow the food you’re serving) and super sophisticated. With my color palette of black, white, and red, the barn red cheese plate looked perfect.

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I chose the Bartoloni’s footed platter because I love creating multiple dimensions. How boring is a buffet table where everything is flat? I like mixing and matching heights so the food looks as good as it tastes.

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Finally, I used one of Tuscia’s beautiful planters — the Blue Leaf Planter — as an ice chest to keep white wine and beer chilled. You’d think the Italian artists had made it for this exact purpose!

All in all, the party was a ton of fun! And judging by how exhausted I was afterward, I consider it a huge success!

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5 Party Planning Tips from Our Boulder Showroom Grand Opening

Emilia Ceramics Boulder Showroom Grand Opening
Who can resist throwing a party? With our Emilia Ceramics Boulder Showroom Grand Opening mere days away, I’m in total party-planner mode. Please join us this Wednesday if you’ll be in Boulder. Can’t make it? Here are five party tips to make your next celebration just as fun as our handmade ceramic bash.

  1. Have plenty of drinks but not too many options. Whether wine, beer, or cocktails, make sure you have more liquid than you think you might need. There’s nothing worse than a party that runs dry! Aim for about 1.5 drinks per guest per hour; one bottle of wine is about 5 drinks. Keep the choices simple with only 2 to 3 options, otherwise you’ll most likely end up with a surplus of one beverage over the others. Always have at least one non-alcoholic option besides water for those who don’t drink or are driving. A delicious tall pitcher of lemonade is always a favorite. If you’ll have 25 guests, 2 gallons should be plenty for the event.wine glass
  2. Scatter the snacks around. Platters full of snacks in different areas will encourage guests to circulate instead of clustering around a single food source. Multiple platters with repeated snacks (chips and salsa, hors d’oeuvres, or bite-sized desserts) are always a good move. If you’re a fan of a cheese platter remember the four parts for success: the cheese, the vehicle (crackers or bread), something sweet (fruit), and something crunchy (nuts). Mix several cheeses on one board or have multiple cheese plates showcasing a single favorite.cheese plate
  3. Embrace labels. So many people have food sensitivities these days, so it pays to clearly label everything. Small signs are classic, or use a roll of craft paper under your platters with contents clearly signaled. Otherwise you’ll find yourself repeating the same information throughout the event.
  4. Fill up a few black & white striped vases. Fresh flowers make even the most ordinary day feel special. Bold, colorful blooms particularly stand out when arranged in an appropriately sized black white striped vase. I love mixing different shapes of flowers and vases; this large black and white striped vase is stunning with sunflowers and this little round vase perfect for just a couple small flowers.black white striped vase
  5. Set the music and forget it. Background music sets the tone, so think about what suits the mood of your event. Keep the volume at a level where people can comfortably converse. No one wants to scream in front of a stack of speakers. Pandora (with no commercials!) is a favorite of mine; I have a great party station based on Pink Martini’s smooth grooves. If you’re crafting your own playlist, aim for about 4-5 hours worth of music. The people that are still around from the beginning will be having such a good time they won’t realize the music is starting to repeat.

What are your party planning secrets? Share your best advice with a comment below or just tell us in person tomorrow at our fête.

Wine glass image courtesy Dave Dugdale.

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Lovers of Black White Chevron Ginger Jars Unite!

A few weeks ago, we sent 16 black and white chevron ginger jars to a new hotel in the Caribbean. It’s no wonder these ginger jars are a favorite among interior designers and bloggers, it’s hard to resist their authentic, yet super stylish allure. Love graphic boldness? The black white chevron ginger jar is perfect for you. Want a touch of elegant simplicity? Reach for gray and white ginger jars. Traditionalist? Time for blue and white ginger jars, preferably in ornate patterns.

blue and white ginger jarGinger jars work wonders indoors and out. Think of a pair flanking a sideboard, multiple blue and white ginger jars collected as a table centerpiece, or a single black white chevron ginger jar anchoring a kitchen’s design. As Sanity Fair points out, a chevron ginger jar or two can totally transform an interior space.

Outdoors, large ginger jars are a durable and sturdy favorite for the patio or porch.

large ginger jarCozy•Stylish•Chic loves the statement-making possibilities of chevron for rugs, pillows, chairs, as well as ginger jars. I think this black white chevron ginger jar is just the right size for a stylish accent without totally dominating the room. Of course, chevron ginger jars don’t have to be just black and white; our burnt orange and white, gray and white, or cobalt blue with white ginger jars are other chic combinations for those who love zigzags.

blue and white ginger jarWant ideas on other ways to use ginger jars? Check out our ginger jar board on Pinterest and pin or like your favorites. Seen some great ginger jars on your favorite blogs? Leave the link below with a comment.black white chevron ginger jar small

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Fall French Meals for French Platters

The cooling days of fall mean it’s time to start eating hearty, warm foods. For me, nothing beats country French cooking when it comes to delicious and warming dishes. While many traditional dishes might seem complex at first glance, many of them actually just require time to simmer or stew. Then, volià, complex flavors for dinner with actually little effort on your part.

French cheese platterHere are four of my favorite French dishes for fall, made even better of course when served on French platters!

Crêpes

Is there anything more typically French than a delicious crêpe? Fill them with cheese, spinach, ham, sauce Mornay (béchamel), sautéed vegetables… the combinations are endless. Julia Child’s recipe for crêpes in Mastering the Art of French Cooking remains a classic. Serve folded crêpes on a large French platter either filled or empty with accompanying sides. Need some help making the perfect crêpe? Check out Julia in the two videos below for mastering the batter, flip, and presentation.

Crêpes with jam and whipped cream also make for a quick and delicious dessert.

Cassoulet

French cassoulet

Hearty and filling, cassoulet is a traditional dish of Provence. Beans, sausages, duck or goose confit, and bread crumbs are the base components. Add lots of time to simmer and soon your kitchen is filled with the most amazing fragrance. There are tons of recipes out there, but don’t be frustrated if you don’t have confit laying around your kitchen. You can still create a delicious dish, like these examples from Saveur and the New York Times. Use a covered casserole dish instead of a French platter so your dinner can come directly from oven to table.French casserole dishes

French Onion Soup

Another classic, the trick is to thoroughly brown the onions for the richest flavor possible. Serve your French onion soup in either individual ramekins or a larger casserole dish covered in melted gruyere or comté. A hand-crafted white bowl filled with even more French bread is the perfect pairing for sopping up all that broth.

Pear Clafouti

A delicious dessert with an usual name, clafouti is an easy-to-make dessert that packs a visual punch and tastes just as good. Pears with ginger and dried cranberries are perfect for a fall clafouti instead of the traditional cherries. Try this recipe from the Barefoot Contessa and serve either in a pie plate or pre-cut on a gorgeous French platter.

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What dishes do you serve in fall? Are you a fan of rustic white platters or French platters in rich colors? Have any favorite sources for French recipes? Let us know with a comment below!

yellow French platterCassoulet image courtesy of stu_spivack.

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How Do We Love Ginger Jars? Let Me Count the Ways…

Ginger jars are found all over the world. Originally used in China to store ginger and other spices, these ceramics have made their way into stylish décor and, of course, onto Pinterest. From the stylish modern Mexican ginger jars by Talavera Vazquez to fragile antiques, here are some ginger jar ideas that are sure to please.

Blue and white ginger jars are traditional and quite versatile. I love them mixed with other blue and white ceramics… blue and white ginger jar and bowlsarranged symmetrically on a side table… blue and white ginger jarsand even on the wall!

ginger jar wallpaperBlue and white dining rooms also get a boost with blue and white ginger jars.

blue and white dining room with ginger jarsblue and white dining room with ginger jarsAnd ginger jars always look great in a kitchen! ginger jars in kitchenginger jars in kitchen with yellow accentskitchen with ginger jarsI’ve found French country ginger jars… french country ginger jarsingle statement pieces…

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and massive ginger jar collections.

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Of course, I love the newest additions to the Emilia Ceramics ginger jar collection with yellow striped ginger jars, orange zigzag ginger jars, and multicolored ginger jars. Big or small, these ceramics definitely play well with others, adding interest to tabletops, shelves, and even outside.

ginger jars outdoor ginger jarsWhat are your favorite ginger jar styles? Are you a fan of French country ginger jars, Asian-inspired pieces, or Mexican tibors? Check out our favorite ginger jars on Pinterest and like your favorite ones or leave a comment below to let us know.

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French Ceramics: Patrice Voelkel vs Richard Esteban Pottery

The ceramics of Provence are just as varied as the people who make them. Take Patrice Voelkel and Richard Esteban. Both make incredible French pottery with rustic charm, yet they have very different aesthetics which results in extremely different ceramics. For all the fans of French pottery out there, here’s a quick overview of how these two talented artists measure up and what sets them apart from the rest.

richard esteban potteryPatrice Voelkel

Clay types: Patrice Voelkel uses local black clay for the majority of his pieces, resulting in ceramics that have a bit more heft. The dark clay body also makes for colors that are more deep and rich than bright. Richard Esteban pottery uses the rich red clay of Provence, which causes his glazes to pop, particularly the yellows.

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Color palette: Speaking of color, these French artists both rely on a consistent set of colors. Richard favors a wider range, with ceramics in rich reds, yellows, greens, and blues. He loves polka dots and textured patterns. Patrice, on the other hand, loves indigo and all its many variations. Every time I visit his studio Patrice is wearing blue, leading me to think that he just loves the color. His chalk white dishes and deep cranberry pieces are notable exceptions. All of his glazes have a remarkable liquid quality to them.

pitchers by Richard EstebanProduction volume: Perhaps the biggest difference between Patrice and Richard’s pottery is the number of pieces they produce. Most of Patrice’s ceramics are one of a kind, making them unique works of art. Every time I visit I’m always surprised by something new, though he does make multiples of some favorites like his indigo pitcher and mix and pour bowl. The majority of Richard’s ceramics are replicated, which means that I have plenty of polka dot bowls and platters for all his fans. He also has some one of a kind pieces, notably his green fish canister and most of his lamps.

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Studio size and creative team: Both work in gorgeous surroundings; I don’t think it gets much more picturesque than the French countryside. Patrice works with his wife Sylviane at Poterie Herbes Folles, accompanied by their faithful dog named Tina Turner. Richard opened Poterie d’Aigues-Vives after working with a few different traditional studios. His studio is also part of his home, though he has the talented Arnaud and Katia as part of his team. I’m constantly amazed at how many gorgeous ceramics both these studios produce, particularly since every step is done by hand.

Patrice and Sylviana Voelkel potteryWhat do you love about French ceramics? Are there pieces you’d like to see more of? Do you have a preference for Patrice Voelkel or Richard Esteban pottery? Let us know with a comment below.

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From Blue and White Planters to Rustic Pitchers: Our Favorite Registry Picks

I love working with couples on their registries, seeing how excited they get about picking out beautiful ceramics together and then hearing about how they use their pieces after the wedding. Couples like Bethany and Martin use their ceramics daily, whether it’s a vase holding fresh flowers on the kitchen table, a pottery wall planter gracing the back deck, or one of Richard Esteban’s playful polka dot bowls filled with yogurt for breakfast.

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jennie's_gogoAlong the same line, I recently visited my cousin’s house and loved seeing the collection of colorful Gorky mugs and bowls (photo on the right) she received from her Emilia Ceramics Gift Registry. She and her husband use these everyday, thinking of the friends who gave them and the event they celebrated — that’s what I consider the perfect wedding gift!

In recent blog posts, I’ve talked about ideas for where to register as well as unique gifts that people can give a special couple. Today I’m looking at registries from a slightly different angle, diving into the lists of some of the wonderful couples currently registered at Emilia Ceramics.

Sheena and Blake love blue and white as well as statement pieces with Tuscan charm. Their choices of serving platters and a wine bottle holder point to people who love to entertain. Blair and Christopher have a broad ceramic selection that ranges from big to small: an extra large casserole by Richard Esteban, long rooster platter by Gorky Gonzalez, intricate spoon rest, and even a colorful mini plate.

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extra large casserole dishJen and Kristina love rustic white pieces from France and striped planters. The white pitcher below (sorry — it was one-of-a-kind and has already been purchased for them : ) and serving dishes contrast beautifully with the orange and yellow of their other favorite ceramics.

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Most registries contain serving pieces for entertaining – platters, pitchers, bowls – as well as practical statement pieces like vases and utensil holders. For those with a green thumb, a blue and white planter usually is on the list, and if the happy couple has any kind of yard, pottery wall planters as well. And pieces like the Amor platter are perfect for celebrating love. The range of big to small pieces also is perfect for helping guests pick the right gift for their price range.

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What ceramics do you think should be on every registry? Leave a comment and let us know!

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The Guide to Going “Off Registry”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt’s unfortunate, but not every engaged couple knows about the Emilia Ceramics Gift Registry. They don’t realize they could register for functional, beautiful ceramics that their guests will love to buy for them and they will love to use… for years and years and years to come. Now I understand that not everyone feels quite so passionately about the fact that Emilia Ceramics make the best wedding gifts, but I’m also not the only one who thinks they do. I know more than a few other die-hard Emilia Ceramics fans (you know who you are) who always buy Emilia Ceramics wedding gifts even when the engaged couple has not registered with us.

For those who believe that handmade, hand-painted ceramics make the perfect wedding gift, I recommend looking at a couples’ registry (or at their kitchen/home if that’s possible). You’re looking for the holes in their registries (maybe they overlooked serving platters or vases) and also wanting to get a sense of their style preferences. With a little background research, it’s easy to find a one-of-a-kind Emilia Ceramics piece that will fit their aesthetic and quickly become a cherished part of their new life together. Here are a few examples of thoughtful, meaningful wedding gifts that may be “off-registry” but are definitely on-track.

1. Lovers of White. They’ve registered for plain white plates, bowls, and mugs. But you know these people and they aren’t boring, so you want to give them a gift that’s simple and sophisticated, with a touch of color that will really show up in that sea of white. How about the Limoni 2 Liter Pitcher or Oval Platter? One of my new favorites is the Large Serving Bowl – Flores y Frutas. Another great, grown-up gift is Tuscia’s Blue Leaf Vase. These pieces all compliment a white palette really well, without overwhelming it.

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2. Moving into a New Home. It used to be that marriage was synonymous with making a new home together. Of course that’s not always the case anymore, but when it is, take advantage and give a statement piece that the couple can put in just the right place and build a whole room around. Of course, if you go this route you really should know their style and not just be choosing your favorite statement piece. Some great examples of striking gifts with tons of personality are the Extra Large Blue Floral Tibor, the Pablo Picasso Vase, the Palermo Lamp, and the Frutta Venezia Canister.

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3. Entertainers. You know this couple loves to entertain and while they registered for cooking, baking, and barbecuing supplies, they seemed to miss the serving platters and bowls that make a party work. Hone in on their color pallet… Blue and white? Choose one of these great Mexican bowls and platters: La Azteca Oval Serving Dish, El Mar Serving Plate, or the Large Round Platter – Flores Azules.

oval blue and white serving plateel_mar

blue and white platterAre they more into the earthy, jewel tones? Richard Esteban has them covered with the Large Petal Platter in Butter Yellow, Fish Platter in Burnt Honey, or the Large Cheese Plate in Barn Red.

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4. Who knows?! Whether it’s an old friend you haven’t seen in years or a coworker you just met, sometimes you have to buy a wedding gift for a couple you really don’t know very well. These gift ideas are sure bets for just about anyone. It’s still a good idea to look at what else they’ve registered for so you can match colors, styles, and get a sense of their needs. But in general, you can’t go wrong with these 5 gift ideas:

  1. Amor Platter: The name says it all. This platter evokes love and it’s shape makes it great for serving appetizers or dessert.
  2. Burnt Orange Striped Vase – Especial: Everyone loves this vase. Everyone.
  3. Tuscan Fruit Oval Platter: An Italian classic that can be hung on the wall or used to serve appetizers and main dishes.
  4. Large Love Birds Bowl: Yup, Love Birds… need I say more?!
  5. Small Cherry Pitcher: The voluptuous shape of this pitcher and beautifully painted pattern make it unique, yet universally loved. Great for serving drinks, displaying fresh cut flowers, or just plain looking good.

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tuscan_fruit_oval_platterlove_birds_bowl_1little_cherry_pitcherWhat’s your favorite, go-to wedding gift from Emilia Ceramics? Leave us a comment below to let us know.

Also, if you’re ever having trouble finding the right gift, don’t hesitate to call or email us with questions. We’re here to help and love the challenge of finding just the right gift!

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Black and White Decorating: Stark and Stunning

black and white vasesWho can resist black and white? It’s a great way to add sophistication to any space, from a nursery to formal dining room. Accented with a pop of color, mixed with wood, or kept to strict black and white only, this color combo is very definitely chic. Looking for how to make your black and white décor feel current? Here are some of my favorite black and white decorating ideas to get you going:

Use plenty of textures. The black and white interiors in this post by SF Girl by Bay are an eclectic mix that all use an astonishing amount of textures to feel anything but flat. From black and white vases on end tables to metal accents in steel, chrome, and copper, these black and white shots are simply divine. I particularly love this kitchen shelving display that comes from Desire to Inspire—it’s a great mix of black and white jars that packs visual punch without taking up too much space. I could see using some black and white ginger jars to create something similar in my own kitchen.

black and white pottery display

Keep personality front and center. Black and white can be basic, but it shouldn’t be boring. Take this black and white bedroom from Lea Monaco: the simple line drawing on the wall is wonderfully quirky while the black and white stripe sheets are much more classic.

black and white bedroomA playful black and white vase, like the Hildago design by Talavera Vazquez, nicely balances a collection of other striped, plain, or zig zag black and white vases. This room by Elle Décor is also full of black and white whimsy; the black and white wallpaper is totally fun and the perfect accent for the black leather daybed.

black and white decor

Think about shapes. Black and white allows for the line of a piece to really stand out, be it a black and white ginger jar or a sofa. A white lamp with black shade, black sofa with black and white cushions, wood dining table with black and white chairs… with all the ways to mix these two colors, you’re sure to find something that fits your style and makes the room pop.black and white ginger jar

How do you use black and white in your home? Have creative ways to display black and white vases? Leave a comment and let us know!

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French Ceramics for Hot Summer Fun

French ceramic pitchersI’ve made it to Boulder, CO and it is H.O.T. I know the country has been experiencing a heat wave this summer, but “hot” in San Francisco is above 70°F, not close to 100°F. It’s been a bit of an adjustment, though there is something wonderful about getting to be outside at night without a jacket of any kind. Having to unload a truck worth of ceramics in the heat… that’s less exciting.

What does the weather have to do with French ceramics? Well, with the extreme temperatures, items like water jugs become a necessity to stay cool and hydrated in the sultry afternoons. That’s where Poterie Ravel’s fabulous water jugs and pitchers come in. Perfect for water, iced tea, or a batch of mojitos, these French ceramics are the ideal mix of practical and beautiful for the summer. Poterie Ravel itself is located outside of Marseille in southern France; the ceramic artists there definitely know about beating the summer heat when temperatures start to rise. Water jugs aren’t just decorative accents, but heavily used French ceramics to keep everyone cool.

Of course, these French ceramics work wonderfully as a centerpiece idea for dining indoors or out. Fill the jug with water for your guests or with flowers for a colorful table accent. A pitcher vase always looks rustic and casual, ideal for times when it’s too hot to think clearly. Used on a picnic table, these substantial French ceramics will also keep a tablecloth from blowing away in the breeze. The whites and ivory shades that Poterie Ravel uses for many of its French ceramics feel crisp and cool, perfect for hot days. I also love the water jugs with natural clay exposed at the bottom, evoking the garden pots that Ravel is so well-known for.

Looking for something refreshing to fill your favorite pitcher or water jug this July? Try cold-brew iced tea, no hot water required. I think adding mint and a bit of simple syrup makes for the perfect summer drink. What are your go-to beverages to beat the heat? Leave a comment below and let us know. I’ve got to get back to organizing French ceramics, though thankfully they are now all inside!

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Blue Monday: A Photo Essay

Blue and white. This color combination invokes the sea, summers in Greece, island living, as well as refined taste and timeless elegance. Popular with decorators the world over, blue and white accents are an excellent way to get ready for hot summer days. Try blue and white bowls, blue and white vases full of flowers, or even refresh your morning coffee routine with a new blue coffee mug. Here are some favorite uses of this fabulous color combination to keep the vibe cool inside as the temperatures rise outside.

Blue and white bowls are perfect for serving or decorating.

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Blue and white accent pillows quickly transform a bedroom or living room.

 

Blue and white pitchers handle sangria or fresh orange juice with stylish ease.

blue pitcher

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Before the heat of the day sets in, blue and white cups make morning coffee and tea taste even better.

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Illuminate rooms with blue and white lamps.

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Blue plates make for appealing food presentation, no matter the meal.

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blue plate

Show off fresh flowers from your garden with blue and white vases. Or make them beautiful outdoors with blue and white planters.

Blue and White Striped Vase

blue and white vase

blue and white planter

What ways do you like to use blue and white? Check out our blue and white Pinterest board for more uses of this timeless color combination and get into a summer mood.

Blue and white umbrella image courtesy of eli-sabeth.tumblr.com via Emilia Ceramics on Pinterest.

Blue and white vases on table image courtesy of chinoiseriechic.blogspot.com via Emilia Ceramics on Pinterest.

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Channel Your Inner Zebra with Black and White Stripe Decor

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There’s something about black and white that just exudes timeless chic. From stripes to chevrons and zig zags, black and white is definitely the palette for graphic accents that make an impact throughout your home. Instead of repainting a wall or investing in a huge carpet, adding black and white touches with ceramics is an easy way to instantly update any space.

Take black and white vases. These look fabulous displayed empty on a shelf or filled with flowers on a table. Whether a large black and white striped vase or small, choose an interesting shape for an unusual accent. Also think about the kinds of flowers you like. Large vases will dwarf small bouquets but be perfect for large sprays of branches, lilies, sunflowers, and other more sizable bouquets.

Of course, mixing white vases and black vases is another way to add visual interest to a room. A collection of different shapes and sizes instantly transforms a console, especially if some vases have flowers inside. This ivory urn by Poterie Ravel adds some mass to any arrangement and is the perfect base for a lovely spring flower arrangement. I also like pairing a stripe painted vase with a zigzag vase or another pattern. Who says things have to match perfectly? It’s so much more interesting when they don’t.

 

 

 

But why stop at black and white vases? Black and white throw pillows update sofas and chairs; if you want a bigger change think about some elegant black and white slipcovers for your larger furniture pieces. Curtains, throw rugs, or black and white photographs are all great ways to inject some zebra-inspired style into a room (of course, you don’t need to think about zebras when you think about black and white stripes). Talavera Vazquez’s black and white ceramic planters, bowls, and ginger jars are other ways to add a modern touch.

What do you love about black and white? Have a favorite flower that looks great in black and white striped vases? Leave a comment below and let us know!

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The Irresistible Charm of Blue and White Mexican Pottery

Blue and white pottery is steeped in tradition, going back centuries in China and the Middle East. Cobalt came from Persia to China in the 14th century, combining beautifully with the translucent white of porcelain. Just look at this plate from 13th century China; it looks like something you might find handpainted by a ceramic artist today.

Today’s blue and white serving ware is just as striking as the ceramics from the past. Though the antique feel of blue and white pottery continues to be popular for interior decorating, modern pieces also abound. Jonathan Alder, for example, creates playful designs on stacking porcelain platters with distinctly modern blue and white appeal.

With blue and white Mexican pottery, rustic charm meets modern aesthetics in the work of artists like Gorky Gonzalez. The playful patterns of these unique serving dishes mix well with other pottery platters, making your next meal or appetizer tray look even more appealing. The sloping sides of the El Mar oval serving dish are useful and the rounded corners of the rectangular Las Flores platter are unique.

These Mexican ceramics pair nicely with other pieces with the same border design or complement plain blue or white platters with ease.

Blue and white Mexican pottery by Gorky or Talavera Vazquez also plays with shapes. For example, the handles on Talavera’s blue and white serving dish make it simple to pass a roast. The curves on the end of this blue and white serving platter make it a piece that looks wonderful at the dinner table or decorating a console in the living room. Blue and white might be classic, but it is definitely still fresh in its appeal.

White on its own also gets updated in Mexican ceramics. Take our new chalk white square serving plate, part of the Gogo collection. This white platter is stunning in its deceptive simplicity. Other pieces in the same warm white – the long platter, oval serving dish, and dinner plate – further demonstrate how white platters can be anything but boring. Paired with deep blue dishware or another favored color, it’s easy to see how these unique serving dishes can steal the show!

Whether ancient or modern, intricately patterned or deceptively simple, blue and white is sure to please. What kind of blue and white serving platters do you love?

Chinese 13th century plate image courtesy of World Imaging.

Stacked tray image courtesy of jonathanadler.com via Emilia on Pinterest.

 

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Behind the Scenes: Patrice Voelkel’s French Ceramics

One of my favorite parts about my four years with Emilia Ceramics has been developing a rapport with ceramic artists all around the world. In this series of posts, I’ll give some insights into what happens behind the scenes to make these beautiful hand-painted ceramics come to life.

Patrice Voelkel

I learned about Patrice Voelkel from a book on French ceramic artists that Sylvie Duriez loaned me many years ago. Since Patrice lived near where I was staying in St. Remy, I decided to check out his studio one rainy spring day. Thankfully it was clearly marked and easy to find – the French ceramics that covered the shelves are truly unique and unlike anything else in the Emilia Ceramics collection.

rustic blue pitcher

Patrice works with his wife Sylviane to create French ceramics with a modern sensibility that are deeply grounded in tradition. They use local black clay and create everything from design to finished product between just the two of them. Their dog Tina Turner keeps them company in their studio, known as Poterie Herbes Folles, which I think is named after the area’s wild and crazy grass. Patrice has worked with ceramics for over 33 years; he started making French ceramics near Lyon and then moved to the countryside and started Herbes Folles.

French ceramics drying in the sun

Poterie Herbes FollesThe Voelkels glaze their pieces with a variety of liquid-like colors, but I especially love their marbled blue and celadon pieces, as well as those in a contemporary chalk white. (Patrice himself seems to love blue – every time I visit the workshop he’s wearing some kind of blue shirt!) Patrice and Sylviane’s French ceramics are often large, heavy, and make a serious statement. The rustic grittiness truly reflects the little farmhouse and workshop where they are made. On my last visit, I saw pieces drying in the afternoon sun while Patrice worked on the wheel and Sylviane prepared ceramics for their final firing.

Patrice at work on French ceramics

I now have some new French ceramics by Patrice and Sylviane on the website. The one of a kind serving platter, rustic pitchers, and olive oil pitcher all in a rich indigo are ideal for bringing a bit of Provence to your home.

rustic blue platter

From spoon rests to prep bowls to serving platters, these French ceramics are stunning additions for any collection, reflecting so much of the people who made them with care and love. After working with Patrice for so long, I’m very happy I decided to take a detour in the rain all those springs ago.

white serving platter

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Add Instant Sophistication with Italian Blue and White Ceramics

blue and white pitcherBlue and white is a popular color combination, though not all blue and white ceramics have the same feel. I think the flexibility of blue and white explains the combo’s success since it can adapt so easily to any decorating style. For example, blue and white ceramics from Mexico have a quite contemporary feel while Italian blue and white ceramics feel more subtle and refined. Feeling overwhelmed with all the blue and white options out there? Trying to find the perfect blue and white vase or serving tray? Here are some easy ways to pick the pieces that are right for you.shades of blue

First, think about the blue shades that you gravitate towards. Rich cobalt or a lighter slate? Turquoise or teal? Navy blue or sky blue? Peacock blue or periwinkle? If you already have a blue in your decorating scheme, look for something like a blue and white vase in a complimenting shade. Blue is wonderful in that not everything needs to exactly match, but try to group hues together that have similar tonal qualities for the best look. Wikipedia has at least 61 pages devoted to different shades of blue – you’re sure to find at least one that you like!

Italian blue and white lamp

Next think about the blue and white balance. More white or cream, like with most Italian blue and white ceramics, tends to read as more refined and sophisticated. Do you want blue and white mugs that are mostly blue with a touch of white or the reverse? Mixing dominant colors with your blue and white ceramics and home accessories is a good way to keep things textured and balanced. Think white plates on blue chargers with a blue and white pitcher holding water or wine at dinner. Or a blue and white lamp as an accent light in the bedroom or den.

Blue Striped Vase by Talavera Vazquez

Of course, patterning is another factor when adding blue and white home décor. Do you tend to mix prints and patterns or stick with a single motif? Prefer mostly solid colors with some subtle accenting textures? I recommend additions like a blue and white serving platter – the color combination makes food really pop, no matter how ornamented or plain the platter is itself. The same goes for blue and white mugs, plates, and bowls. I tend to mix patterned pieces with solid colors, but there are endless interesting ways to combine dinnerware that will reflect your own unique, individual style.

Italian blue and white mug

Do you prefer blue and white ceramics from Italy, Mexico, France or somewhere else? How do you use these pieces to create sophistication in your home? Check out our blue and white decorating ideas on Pinterest, then leave a comment below and let us know.

Shades of blue image courtesy of Booyabazooka.

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Contemporary Blue and White Ceramics with Mexican Flair

blue and white cups and saucersBlue and white is certainly one of the most classically chic color combinations. Think Wedgwood or the Hope Diamond. But classic doesn’t need to mean “stuffy.” Just take a look at blue and white ceramics by Mexican artists like Talavera Vazquez and Gorky Gonzalez. Blue and white mugs, planters, vases, bowls, pitchers, and lamps never looked so chic!

The Gogo collection by Gorky’s son is a great example of this contemporary treatment. These blue and white cups and saucers have modern sensibility without looking over-designed. The Gogo long platter and oval serving dish are other blue and white ceramics that bring some flair and fun to any meal or party.

Graphic executions of blue and white, like the chevron zig zags on Vazquez’s blue and white ginger jars, are another fusion of modern and tradition. Ginger jars are beautiful accents for the home, and these designs are definitely not stuck in the past.

blue and white ginger jar

blue and white vaseI particularly like the zig zag and stripes of blue and white ceramics for plants. Cheerful and eye-catching, it’s no wonder that these blue and white planters and vases are consistent bestsellers. I think they are a fabulous foil for greenery. For example, this blue and white striped vase is stunning whether filled with a bouquet or sitting empty on a shelf, while this smaller blue and white vase accents a counter or desktop beautifully.

More typical floral motifs get an updated feel by these Mexican artists as well. The playful borders on Gorky’s blue and white dinner plates mix and match with ease, complimenting serving trays and blue and white bowls. The blue and white salad bowl by Talavera Vazquez is the perfect backdrop for your greens (much like blue and white planters and vases, now that I think about it). Solid-colored pieces put the focus more on form, highlighting the modern shapes of these blue and white bowls and plates.blue and white ceramics

Mexican flair also comes with Vazquez’s blue and white lamp bases. Truly a fusion of design and function, these blue and white lamps add a modern decorative touch along with accent lighting. Use them as a reading lamp, flanking a bed, or simply another light source for your living room.blue and white lamp base

What are your favorite blue and white ceramics? What do you think about these contemporary twists on such a classic color combination? Leave a comment and let us know!

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Much Loved (and Used) Favorites!

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One of the best things about the pop-up shop in Palo Alto is interacting with customers. Many people who walk into my shop just assume I’m an employee. Sure, I might know something about ceramics, but they don’t expect me to be quite as intimately connected with the goods as I am. I don’t blame them… I make the same assumption when I visit other stores. It’s fun to get to surprise customers by sharing that I actually know the artists who make the pieces, that I personally pick out each piece, and that I use many of the ceramics myself at home. The last piece of info is probably the most helpful to perspective customers. I can give them precise knowledge of food that looks great served on Tuscia’s square platters, promise them that all the mugs work well in the microwave, and assure them that the Vina Azul salad bowl is the best size and shape for tossing/serving salads. I love sharing personal stories of how my parents use an eclectic set of Gorky plates as their everyday dishes, how my sister serves spaghetti, ice cream, salad, chili, and IMG_0779anything else she can think of in Gorky’s pasta bowls, how my brother makes beautiful caprese salads on his Amor Platter, and how I always serve cheese and crackers on my favorite square platter with oranges. Here are some personal photos of Emilia Ceramics in use… Enjoy!

Right and Below: Dinner at my parents’ house with El Mar Platter, Oval Serving Dish, and various Gorky plates.

gorky gonzalez serving platters and plate

Below: My brother’s famous caprese salad served on the Amor Platter

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Below: Delicious and beautiful Gazpacho at my friend’s house, served in Emilia Ceramics’ Italian mugs and blue and white bowls by Gorky Gonzalez.gazpacho

Below: One of my favorite of Richard Esteban’s pieces, this oval serving platter (which I gave my dad for Christmas last year) works great for serving meat dishes and salads. We even served the turkey on it for Thanksgiving this year (but I forgot to take a photo)!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIMG_0384

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Warm Up Your Winter Garden with These Hot Outdoor Pots and Plants

Even though it’s January, there’s no reason for your garden to be neglected. Inspired by Sunset Magazine’s tips to refresh a winter garden, here are some ways to keep your garden looking chic all winter long with outdoor pots and more:

Change your color palette

Highlight white blooms and bright green leaves, perhaps with touches of purple or burgundy. If you don’t get snow in your area, this is a way to stay seasonal and fresh at the same time. Accent your white blooms with white cushions on patio furniture, giving the garden a serene look as it prepares for the colors of spring.

Get creative with greenery

Ferns are not the only answer to your greenery needs. Grasses are another hearty option, or try something interesting like this fiber optics plant in a zig zag ceramic planter. Coleus plants with their wide variety of colors and patterns are another creative greenery choice for your ceramic pots for plants indoors or out.

Accent your entryway

Nothing says welcome quite like a door flanked by pots and tall plants. Spiky or fountain-like shapes draw the eyes, particularly when in striking outdoor plant containers. Layer in low growing plants around the rim for a stacked effect that’s particularly eye-catching.

Bring plants inside

Fill your windowsills with greenery (particularly if you don’t have an outdoor garden of your own). Not only does this chase the winter blues away, you can also accent your home with chic black and white planters or cleverly designed small flower pots. Another idea: fill large flower pots indoors with white azaleas and hydrangeas forced into bloom; they look like delicate snowballs.

Group pots on a doorstep

Instead of a formal style door flanking, a small cluster of large and small flower pots dress up any porch or doorstep. A mix of patterns – zig zag planters, ceramic striped outdoor pots, and plain clay flower pots – filled with an interesting plants like purple kale and crimson ‘Fire Power’ nandina makes for a colorful homage to the season.

How do you warm up your winter garden? Have any tips for using outdoor pots or ceramic zig zag planters? Leave a comment and let us know!

Narcissus image courtesy of nosha.

Coleus image courtesy of Pharaoh Hound.

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Ceramic Pitchers, A Stylish and Functional Gift

Still looking for the perfect unique gift this holiday season? What about a French ceramic pitcher? With my recent pitcher additions by Poterie Ravel, as well as pitchers by ceramic artists Richard Esteban and Sylvie Duriez, you’re sure to find a pitcher that combines graceful lines with full functionality. Our pitchers look equally fantastic as a vase or holding your favorite beverage at the table, from juice in the morning to wine at dinner. These ceramic pitchers also add French decorative charm to any kitchen, which is hard to resist.

White pitchers, like those by Poterie Ravel, are stunning in their simplicity. Soft glazes allow for the graceful lines to shine fully unobstructed. The one of a kind ivory French water jug makes a great centerpiece, and this fancy pitcher fits right in at anyone’s chateaux (or home).

Another fantastic white pitcher is the Provence pitcher. The spout makes me think of an old-fashioned watering can, and it’s a pitcher that holds a bouquet of fresh blooms with casual style. Besides the white pitcher, the Provence pitcher is also available in aquamarine, truly celebrating the spirit of the region.

For the more tactile-inclined, rustic pitchers with exposed clay are the perfect fit. The pelican pitcher by ceramic artist Richard Esteban combines lush glazes, a swooping spout, and exposed red clay at the bottom for a one of a kind piece. Looking for a ceramic pitcher to brighten someone’s day? The sunny yellow of this milk pitcher is charming with its soft and inviting glaze. I think this pitcher looks wonderful as a vase filled with tulips on a spring morning.

Sylvie’s unique pitchers stand out as works of art all on their own. The tall, modern feel of this ceramic pitcher with flowers combines subtle color with bold lines. The result is something that’s striking and serene.

Want to give a ceramic pitcher on Christmas day? Our shipping deadline is today (December 18th) for regular shipping, but please contact us by phone at 650-257-0292 or email if you want a quote for expedited shipping later this week. Happy gift giving!

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Get Personal with the Blue and White Ceramics that Fit Your Style

Do you love the appeal of blue and white ceramics but not sure where to begin when it comes to your home? This color combination is hugely popular for decorating, so it’s really no surprise that the options for blue dinnerware, white dishes, and blue and white serving plates appear to be endless. Broadly speaking you can find blue and white ceramics that fall into the following four categories. Pick the one that suits your aesthetic best and let that guide your choices from blue dishes to white ceramic serving platters.

Abstract Designs

Stripes, zigzags, chevrons, polka dots, and other abstract motifs can feel truly contemporary yet have a timeless appeal. For example, a blue and white ceramic vase makes a great centerpiece for your table, complimenting your serving plates and dinnerware. Geometric designs like the El Mar pattern on this ceramic serving platter have a softer organic feel and set off food to perfection. Pieces with textured patterns, like this teal blue serving platter by Richard Esteban, are also attractive and functional.

Floral Motifs

From small, delicate blooms to bold blossoms, flower patterns are quite popular for blue and white ceramics. Classic and timeless, you can use a singular pattern for these blue and white ceramics or create an entire garden of patterns on your table. Some examples are the blue Las Flores design that edges white dishes and bowls and the abstract floral motifs of this blue and white salad bowl. Another idea? A blue and white pitcher with leaves – it looks great filled with a drink or fresh flowers.

Animals

Whimsical and fun, animal designs can bring a bit of the unexpected to your dining. Choose birds, fish, roosters, or another favorite to enliven your meals. I find that animal serving plates are always a hit as there’s a surprise revealed when all the food is gone.

Handpainted animals ensure plenty of personality as no two are exactly like, such as with this playful blue and white fish serving bowl.

Solid Colors

Of course, patterns aren’t for everyone. But that doesn’t mean white dishes or solid blue dinnerware need to be boring. Pick unique shapes like this long blue serving plate or modern espresso cups. Layering a blue dinner plate with white ceramic dishes of various sizes also gives depth to your place settings. Think too about mixing different shades of blue, from pale celadon to deep indigo. No matter the shade, your delicious meal will certainly stand out.

What blue and white ceramics are your favorites for the table? Do you use blue dinner plates, white serving bowls, or a mixture of these colors? Leave a comment below and let us know!

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Just Opened: New Exhibition on French Ceramics in LA

Love French ceramics from the seventeenth- and eighteenth-centuries? Then you need to check out the exhibition that opened last Saturday, October 6, at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). Entitled “Daily Pleasures: French Ceramics from the MaryLou Boone Collection,” it features over 130 examples of faïance, soft-paste porcelain, and hard-paste porcelain used in French daily life.

I found out about this exhibition months ago and wrote about it when comparing French ceramics past and present. For example, the curves of French country pottery pitchers mirror those of antique ewers which traditionally held water for washing in the morning. Other French ceramics in the exhibition include tablewares, tea accouterments, toiletry items, and even pieces used in times of sickness. The sugar bowl and spoon featured on LACMA’s blog is charming, with soft pink accents and a curiously slotted spoon.

Covered Sugar Bowl, 1780, Lunéville, France; and Sugar Spoon, 1775, Lunéville Petit Feu Faïence Manufactory, Lunéville, France; gifts of MaryLou Boone, photos © Susan Einstein

“This exhibition reveals and celebrates both the artistry that exists in the service of the utilitarian and the ability of this discriminating collector to bring together remarkable examples of that artistry,” said Elizabeth Williams, assistant curator of decorative arts and design at LACMA, in a recent press release.

Wine Bottle Cooler (Seau à demi-bouteille). Chantilly Porcelain Manufactory, Chantilly, France, c. 1730-1735. Soft-paste porcelain with glaze and enamel, The MaryLou Boone Collection. photos © Susan Einstein

I couldn’t agree more, especially looking at examples of handmade French pottery today, from French platters to the elegant curves of a French ceramic serving bowl. I was amused to see a French ceramic wine bottle holder circa 1730-1735 as a featured piece on the LACMA website. The Asian influence is obvious, as is the practicality of having something to keep wine cool. Unlike the porcelain jars for pomade, a wine bottle holder is a practical ceramic piece people still use today.

Many of these pieces look like they came from Asia because they were imitations of pieces from Japan and China that only the very rich could afford. Today’s French ceramics embrace colors, shapes, and textures of a timeless (yet contemporary) French aesthetic. French country pottery is a pleasure not only to see, but also to use, though the delicate artistic touches on Sylvie Durez‘s birds or the edging of Poterie Ravel’s French platters invoke the early examples of this tradition the LACMA exhibition highlights.

“Daily Pleasures” runs until March 31, 2013, so if I make it down to L.A. before it’s over, I’ll definitely check it out. Have you seen this exhibition or know of others that focus on French ceramics in your area? Leave a comment below and let us know!

“Daily Pleasures” images courtesy of LACMA.

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Find Your Plate Style with the Right Ceramic Dishes

When it comes to plates for dinner, what do you reach for? Large, plain ceramic dishes? Small, intricate decorative plates? Colorful pottery dishes? While white is a universal standard for plates, there are so many other options out there that it can seem overwhelming to think outside the “white plate box.” Looking to update your existing plates or invest in a whole new set of ceramic dishes? Here are three decorative styles for plates, inspired by the homelife buying guide for dinnerware. Which suits your home best?

Your Style: Supreme Simplicity

Elegant lines and simple shapes are the hallmarks of your ceramic dishes. Your idea of a perfect table setting has matching plates that don’t detract attention from your delicious meal. Smoothly glazed serving dishes, like a French chalk white serving plate or ivory footed serving platter, are good choices that blend into your existing tableware. Another approach is to highlight your more subdued dishes with boldly patterned Italian decorative plates for mains and sides. The detailed designs of these serving plates add just the right note of sophistication to your table.

Your Look: Rustic French Country

You want plates for dinner that would feel right at home in Provence, mixing personality with functionality. The butter yellow plates with colored polka dots by Richard Esteban are a great example of this plate style in action.

From dinner plates that say “Vive le bon vin” to dessert plates decorated with stripes or songbirds, these plates find their compliment with polka dot mugs, bowls and rustic casserole dishes.

All you need now is some wine, cheese, and fresh baguette.

Your Preference: Lively Color

You get bored with monochromatic pottery dishes, instead mixing and matching colors, shapes, and textures. Embrace your colorful leanings by having plates in all different colors or sticking to a palette of three complimenting favorites.

Patterned edges on salad plates are ideal for layering over the solid colored dinner plates by Gorky Gonzalez, creating a vibrant table before you’ve even brought out the food. Looking for another way to play with color? Incorporate plates with roosters, fish, or other whimsical designs. They’re a fun way to begin or end any meal.

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White Dishes and Kitchen Décor to Fit Your Style

Black and white is perhaps the most versatile color combination out there. From modern design to rustic country décor, these basic colors create spaces that are full of personality and depth. After our zigzag black and white ceramic wine bottle holder was featured on the cover of the September issue of HGTV magazine I’ve been thinking more about how to use black and white effectively in kitchen décor. It’s the perfect counterpoint for color and so much more!

Here are some ideas to help you find the best ways to use black and white in your kitchen:

Let colors rule. Black and white looks the most striking when paired with vibrant colors. Cheerful cabinets, walls, and countertops create a backdrop for your black and white kitchen décor that prevents things from looking flat and lifeless. Lighter shades are equally effective (powder blue and pale yellow are some personal favorites), but make sure there’s enough richness in the base tone of your paint to avoid a washed-out, blah effect.

Find white dishes with character. Plain white plates are boring, so choose white dishes that have something unique about them. Textured glazes and unusual shapes are great ways to pack some punch with your white serving platters.

This white plate with cut-out handles is the perfect example with black clay that shows just around the edges, giving an unexpected softness to the piece. Similarly, a white bowl becomes playful with decorative fluting around the edges.

 

Who said white dishes had to be basic?

 

Embrace touches of modern design. Not everyone wants a kitchen that feels like a futuristic spaceship. But that doesn’t mean that you should reject contemporary décor accents like curtains, countertop accessories, or vases. Mixing in a little of the modern gives any kitchen décor a definite edge. Take Gogo’s white espresso cup and saucer or Richard Esteban’s carved black vase; these pieces have timeless appeal with a distinctly modern feel.

Or try a graphic black and white ceramic wine bottle holder that becomes an appealing utensil holder and plays up your other colorful accents.

What ways do you incorporate black and white into your kitchen décor or dishware? Leave a comment and let us know!

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Blue and White Serving Platters with a French Twist

Need a surefire way to make your food look better? Reach for blue and white serving platters. This color combination is elegant and versatile, adapting to any occasion from a formal dinner to an impromptu barbeque with friends. If you want your serving plates to really stand out, I love those with some French flair, like the large serving platters by Richard Esteban or white platters by Poterie Ravel and Patrice Voekel. These take a common color combination and turn it into something that feels unique and truly special.

So how do you determine the right blue and white serving platters to meet your needs? Whether you’re looking for white platters, unusually shaped ceramic dishes, or especially large serving platters, there is a whole range of options. Here are three tips for choosing French serving plates that are both practical and fun to use.

Have at least one large serving platter. These are the workhorses of entertaining, holding a range of appetizers at a party or showcasing a main dish at dinner. Because you can load them up, large serving platters can save on table space and make passing food around simple. The teal fish serving platter is a perfect example of this type. It’s 19 inches long, giving your food plenty of room, and the border adds a hint of sophistication that’s unexpected. Another great large serving platter is the petal platter; its slightly sloping sides are equally good for meats that have sauces or assortments of cookies.

Aim for multifunctional pieces. The best ceramic dishes are ones that you can use everyday. Pick a decorative blue and white serving platter and then hang it on the kitchen wall when you don’t need it for serving. A white platter like this footed piece elegantly holds fruit during the week on a table or counter, but also wonderfully highlights desserts when you have guests. Choose serving plates that do many things and they won’t get lost in the back of a cabinet, just taking up space.

Everyone can use a cheese plate. Cheese assortments are an easy way to create elegance at your next gathering. Pick the right size for your needs – these serving plates should have ample room for multiple cheeses as well as your favorite garnishes (fruits, nuts, and honey are all good pairing ideas). A small cheese plate holds 2-3 varieties, while a large cheese plate can take center stage with 4 or more of your favorites.

Don’t use this ceramic dish as a place to slice bread though; that’s bad for your knives. A rustic cutting board or pre-sliced baguette and crackers look better and will keep the crumbs out of the cheeses. These serving plates definitely add the perfect French note to any party, especially when filled with your favorite French cheeses.

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Olympic Summer Style with Gorky Gonzalez Pottery

How did it become August already? If you’re like me, you’ve been watching lots of Olympics. While I’m a big fan of all things volleyball, other events like rowing, gymnastics, and diving have me trying to figure out the rules and cheer on Americans and hard-working underdogs whenever possible.

Of course, the Olympics are another reason to throw a party, whether it’s to celebrate the time trials or event finals for your favorite sport. That’s where Gorky Gonzalez pottery comes into the mix. While these plates, bowls, and platters might not run as fast as our favorite athletes, they certainly win gold metals for style. Here are some tips for using Gorky Gonzalez pottery to make your Olympic party (or even just your family dinner tonight) the best it can be.

  • Think red, white, and blue. These colors aren’t just for the USA, so if you’re cheering on France, the U.K., Chile, Russia, or Australia, you can still use Gorky Gonzalez pottery to show off your patriotism. The solid colors of the Gogo collection, like this long red platter or the brightly colored plates, make these pieces of Gorky Gonzalez pottery easy to mix and match. The blue and white octagonal rooster plate is perfect for you France fans — the rooster looks proud and poised to fight all comers.
  • Have fun with animals. A driving force behind the popularity of Gorky Gonzalez pottery are the lively animal motifs. Whether it’s bunnies or roosters as salt and pepper shakers, or a playful fish plate, you’re sure to smile when you see them on the table. Use these rooster plates for your fresh summer salad or refreshing dessert; people love seeing what appears after they eat.

  • Make room for the dip. Salsa, homemade guacamole, or classic onion dip all enliven boring plain chips. A big chip bowl is a must for any Olympic watching party, and use little bowls on the coffee table so that people can dip into their favorites. Even better, Gorky Gonzalez pottery is sturdy enough not to break if someone knocks things over in the excitement of the winning point.
  • Serve enough the first time. Who wants to go back to the kitchen to refill empty plates and platters when there’s only a minute left on the clock? Using large serving platters and bowls means that you won’t run out of snacks until the commercial breaks (and probably not even then!). One of my personal favorites in the Gorky Gonzalez pottery collection is this platter with the Las Flores design around the edge.Olympic Rings in London

Olympic rings image courtesy of David Catchpole.

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A Look at French Ceramics, Past and Present

Think you know French ceramics? Many people picture porcelain when they think about French ceramics, such as the famous Sèvres porcelain. Louis XV became the owner of this producer in 1759 and it was a major maker of French porcelain throughout the eighteenth century (according to the Metropolitan Museum of Art). Most of these early porcelains were imitations of pieces from Japan and China that only the very rich could afford, though there was plenty of French innovation once the new processes got traction. Because of a lack of essential materials to make a clay body that was the same as the Asian pieces, all of the French ceramics made before 1770 were soft paste porcelain, not hard paste. (For those that are wondering, soft paste porcelain requires a higher fire temperature and is much harder to form than the more plastic and malleable hard paste porcelain, which contains minerals like kaolin and quartz.)

Technical talk aside, these old French ceramics are certainly beautiful to see. If you’re in the LA area, an upcoming exhibition at Los Angeles County Museum of Art will feature examples of porcelain from seventeenth- and eighteenth-century France that have a whole range of style and function. What’s particularly interesting about this collection is that it also features faience, which is simply another name for tin-oxide glazed pottery… also known as majolica.

Flash forward to today where faience/majolica is still going strong in French ceramics. Sturdy, rustic, yet also refined, this ceramic tradition continues to grow with modern sensibilities while staying true to its roots.

Just look at the curves of the pitchers by Richard Esteban and Poterie Ravel. Simple and elegant, their rich glazes are enticing for hands and eyes alike. Compare a faience ewer circa 1700 (like the photo above) to Richard’s barn red milk pitcher – they have the same clean lines and visual appeal with tall, stately spouts.

Poterie Ravel’s fancy pitcher, stunning in mustard yellow or creamy ivory, also reflects shapes and function from the past that fits in with today’s aesthetics for French ceramics.

Then there are French ceramics like those by Patrice Voelkel and Sylvie Durez. Patrice does so much with colors like white or blue, creating pieces that are deceptively simple. His large serving dish has a delicate rim that exposes the black local clay of Provence, while the white irregular glaze gives it real character. Sylvie goes a completely different direction, treating her bowls, serving platters, and pitchers as canvases for playful animals, dreamy women, or pastel landscapes with a surreal feel.

No matter your style, the variety of French ceramics being made today are sure to be just as sought after in hundreds of years as those that were made in the 1700s. So which French ceramics suit you best?

French faience ewer image courtesy of Sean Pathasema/Birmingham Museum of Art.

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Serve It Right with Blue and White Mexican Pottery

Whether it’s a white serving bowl or a white platter, everyone needs a few pieces of go-to serving ware that can adapt to any occasion from causal to formal. When it comes to pieces that are clean and crisp, you can’t do better than white pottery platters. They really show off your food without taking up too much attention, whether canapés during cocktail hour, scones at brunch, or a succulent side dish at dinner.

Of course, there are lots of stark white platters out there, like those mass-produced in China. To me, the feel of these pieces is impersonal and almost clinical. And who wants to serve their food on something that seems like it belongs in a hospital? White serving ware that uses natural glazes has a warmer tone, giving an authentic, at times rustic look, which is a much better compliment for your home-cooked meals. Pieces like the Gogo oval platter, long serving platter, or round white platter are just some examples of white platters that really showcase your cooking.

White all the time can get a bit monotone, however. That’s why the blue and white combo of Mexican pottery is a surefire winner. It’s a simple equation: blue and white Mexican pottery has the crisp neatness of white, along with the rich contrast of blue. There aren’t many blue foods out there, so most items will really pop on blue serving ware. The end result? Food that looks even tastier, no matter the meal or occasion. Blue and white Mexican pottery like Gorky’s oval serving dishes or Talavera Vazquez’s blue and white serving platter will enliven any table. They’re also sturdy enough to be used everyday for family dinners, not just special occasions.

Want to add some unique serving dishes to your collection of blue and white Mexican pottery? When it comes to blue and white platters, I love the unexpected shape of El Mar and Las Flores pottery platters.

Not quite rectangle, not quite oval, these unique serving dishes are a fantastic example of what makes blue and white Mexican pottery appealing to so many people. The border detail isn’t overpowering, but it makes the perfect frame for your desserts, appetizers, or cheeses.

Do you have favorite pieces of blue and white Mexican pottery? Let us know about your go-to serving ware pieces by leaving a comment below.

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Adding French Country Charm to Your Home

Who can resist the unique combination of elegance and simplicity that is French country charm? It’s not just the French manor house or the French country cottage, but somehow both at once. This irresistible combination of seemingly conflicting style elements manifests in French ceramics as well as décor. Colors, shapes, functionality, and charm all work together to make something truly unique, whether it’s a fun polka dot mug or a striking ceramic serving platter.

Want to inject your home with some French country chic? Give these five tips, many inspired by the French Country Decor Guide, a try.

  1. Get regional with color. French country can mean Provence, with warm, sunny colors, or the paler hues of northern France. These regional differences mean that it’s easy to find French country elements that already fit into your existing design aesthetic (French ceramics are a perfect example). The strong colors of Provence can include terracotta reds, dusky violets, Mediterranean blues and turquoises, and soft butter and creamy saffron yellows. Go north for colors with a touch of grey, including soft sage greens, milky whites, creamy pinks, and pale blues.
  2. Mix old and new. Antiques are a hallmark of French country, whether it’s a chair, bed, or accent piece. With a country estate-inspired bedroom for example, gilded edges on the bed make for a soft glow that contrasts with crisp sheets and textured walls. Or reupholster that great chair you found with a lush fabric and add it to more modern furnishings in the living room or study. Rich patina and distressed finishes make everything seem softer and slightly relaxed.
  3. Repurpose with abandon. If something is beautiful, it’s worth holding onto, even if no longer needed for its original use. Repurposed items can be anything from glass jars as table decorations to metal buckets acting as planters. I see this with French ceramics often – a chipped bowl becomes a place for change or a decorative element on a shelf. A ceramic serving platter holds keys and sunglasses by the door. A polka dot mug turns into a pen and pencil holder on a desk.
  4. Show off what’s in your kitchen. Why hide those gorgeous plates behind closed doors? A French country kitchen will often have open shelves that turn your dishware into decoration, as well as make things easier for the cook to access. Display your collection of French ceramics with pride, making them a part of your daily life.
  5. Let simplicity rule. French country is not about clutter or overwrought design. Smooth curves, clean lines, and subdued accents are all its hallmarks. I see this in some of my favorite French ceramic serving platters, whether the curves of the petal platter by Richard Esteban, the stark chalk white of the serving dish with handles by Patrice Voelkel, or subtle white streak on the lemon yellow round platter by Poterie Ravel.

French country kitchen image courtesy of thekitchendesigner.

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Serving Plate Trends: Best and Worst

Serving plates are a key element for any party, whether you’re serving simple appetizers or a formal dinner. I’m sure you’ve been to an event where the serving ware didn’t quite match the contents and everything just felt a little off. Perhaps there was a large serving platter with only a few things on it, so the food looked dwarfed and scanty. Or a tray that was supposed to be passed was just too heavy to comfortably lift. Or a beautiful platter heaped with a pyramid of canapés that looked like it would collapse if anyone touched it… so nobody did the entire time.

While white platters are classic when it comes to entertaining, I’ve been thinking about some other trends in how to serve guests in a way that compliments the food, looks chic, and adds to the atmosphere of the event (even if it’s just family dinner). Here are some current trends to love (as well as some to skip) when it comes to serving plates and platters:

Blue and white serving platters. I’ve written about the versatility of blue and white serving platters for everything from watching “the big game” to having an elegant cocktail party. People love this color combination and it makes food look even more delicious. Mixing blue and white serving platters into an existing all-white set makes for a more dynamic table setting or buffet.

Cheese Plate Slate Chalk Food Macro January 23, 20111Slate. There are some great uses for slate platters, like labeling your cheeses for your guests. A piece of chalk and everyone knows that’s Roquefort, not another blue cheese. But when it comes to individual plates, I tend to agree with David Lebovitz’s take on this trend. Not only are slate plates hard to pick up from the table, they make poor cutting surfaces for a steak entrée or other food that needs cutting. Knives across a chalkboard is not a good dining sound, so I say keep these serving plates for cheeses or other stationary items only.

Meat + Cheese TrayBamboo. Wooden serving trays have always been a good way to transport breakfast in bed or a tea service to your company. Bamboo is not only good for the environment as a renewable resource; it looks streamlined with interesting stripe patterns and real durability. I have a large bamboo cutting board I always use for slicing fresh bread for parties (it looks fantastic with my blue and white serving platters too!).

Overly-specialized serving plates. While I think that having the right tool for the job is great, there’s no sense in wasting storage space on a piece that has no versatility. A good example is this ridiculous champagne and sushi serving platter (unless of course, you throw champagne and sushi parties often!). Functionality is also important. How frustrating is the chip and dip bowl where the dip hangs over the chips and drips onto the chips? No one wants to eat that. Just use a dip bowl next to a larger serving bowl and the problem is solved. Choose serving platters that are versatile and functional so you’ll actually use them.

Slate cheese tray image courtesy of Steven Depolo.

Bamboo serving tray image courtesy of Eric Kilby.

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Historical Roots of Blue and White Mexican Pottery

Archeologists recently discovered a kiln more than 1,300 years old in the Oaxaca region of Mexico. Used by the Zapotecs to make ceramics, it’s one of the best-preserved kilns found to date, says Mexico Today. Not surprisingly, a strong pottery tradition still exists right down the road from the discovery, and in fact, throughout this region of Mexico. From the all black pottery associated with Oaxacan artisans, to the multicolored and blue and white Talavera-style made in Puebla and Dolores-Hidalgo, Mexican pottery is definitely thriving. Modern day artists have put their own stamp on the craft, while adhering to some techniques the Zapotecs would have used over a thousand years ago.

This link between past and present in Mexico creates truly unique pieces, from serving dishes to pottery platters. Reading about this kiln made me think of Gorky Gonzalez pottery, which combines traditional Mexican techniques with Japanese, Spanish, and Italian influences. The resulting fusion is something unique, yet still invokes an ancient pottery past.

Of course, being tied to the past doesn’t need you mean to be stuck there. Nothing exemplifies this concept more than the Gogo line, created by and named for Gorky Gonzalez’s son. When it comes to blue and white Mexican pottery, Gogo serving pieces might not be what you expect. Sleek and modern, these contemporary pieces speak to a design aesthetic of today while staying true to techniques honed for hundreds of years.

But serving ware needs to have more than an interesting past. For me when it comes time to choose pottery platters or serving bowls, I’m concerned about how the piece will look and function with food on it. Blue and white consistently looks clean and sharp, making Mexican pottery in these colors great for showing off your favorite dishes.

Shape also matters when it comes to unique serving dishes. Round pottery platters are versatile; use them for main dishes, finger foods, or even as a charger to give your table a pop of color.

The length of this white platter is striking filled with fruits or snacks at a party. And an oval serving dish handles a roast or an array of cupcakes with equal ease. Having a variety of shapes is a simple solution that certainly packs a design punch.

By mixing blue and white Mexican pottery together, you’ll create a distinctive table or party spread perfect for so many occasions. Historic, stylish, and modern – now those are some unique serving dishes!

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Oh, Glorious Italian Food!

In Italy, meals are truly an art form. The traditional Italian meal can be anywhere from three to six courses, incorporating a vast array of dishes and tastes into one delicious feast. It’s no wonder that Italian serving dishes are a vital compliment to this eating experience.

Italian food has a lot of personality and variation by region. For example, Northern Italian food tends toward risottos and polenta, though pasta is still popular, according to Life In Italy. Liguria is home to pesto, a worldwide (and personal) favorite. In Lombardy minestrone and osso bucco reign, while in the Vento, seafood and wild fowl are the stars. It’s a pretty good bet that whatever grows regionally will be served on local Italian platters.

Now that I’ve gotten you hungry, why not start planning an Italian style dinner party. Now that it’s summer and staying light later, slow down and enjoy a long evening, savoring a leisurely meal just as they do in Italy. Italian serving dishes are the perfect way to showcase your meal. Presentation might not be everything, but I can attest to the fact that it definitely makes the meal taste better.

Whether you prefer white serving platters or something a little more colorful, let’s break down the courses to see what Italian serving dishes work best for each part of the meal.

  • Aperitivo and Antipasti: A little alcohol prepares the palate while small snacks get your stomach ready for the feast ahead. Sliced cheese, meats, or peppers are all good ideas, especially when served on handmade Italian serving dishes, like a Blu Limoni Rectangular Plate.
  • Primo Piatto: For the first course, pasta, risotto, polenta, gnocchi or soup are traditional. An Italian ceramic pasta serving bowl makes everything from spaghetti to tortellini look gorgeous for your guests.
  • Secondo Piatto or Piatto di Mezzo: This second course showcases meats, whether seafood, meat, poultry or game. For the less meat inclined, an omelet or a cooked cheese or vegetable dish are all great options.
  • Contorno: A side dish of cooked vegetables, salad, rice, noodles or polenta is a perfect compliment to the second course. Ceramic Italian platters or a statement making salad bowl ensure your side won’t be overshadowed.
  • Formaggio & Frutta: Usually served in sequence, cheese helps the body digest and fruit cleanses the palate. A decorative footed platter makes apples, cherries, or peaches even more appealing.
  • Dolce and Caffe: Save room for dessert and the obligatory espresso to finish up the meal.
  • Digestivo: A liqueur like grappa, Amaro, or Sambuca finishes off the feast.

Spaghetti photo courtesy of Bejie Ordonez.