The perfect dinner party menu is only as good as the plates on which you serve it on, so in order to be the consummate host for your next gathering, update your home with some beautiful new ceramics, some fine glassware, and a unique decorative element—not forgetting music to set the mood, and a decadent cake to set the tone for a celebration.
1. Handmade Tableware
They may look like objets d’art, but these pieces from Netherlands-based Grace of Glaze are actually dishwasher safe. “I wanted people to experience using precious products,” says founder Simone Doesburg. “The liveliness of the colors enhances the food served.” They are created by adding a colored transparent glaze to colored clay, which produces an ombré effect. Three colorways are currently available with more planned, but Doesburg also takes bespoke requests from the color samples on her site, and says the handmade tableware will have “a depth and aliveness” that factory-produced equivalents could never match.
2. Fine Ceramics
Ceramicist Pawena Thimaporn grew up playing in the mud of her family’s farm in the countryside of Thailand. Studies in industrial design and ceramics cemented her love of crafting things with her hands, and she now works from her studio in Los Angeles. Thimaporn produces limited-run, handmade cups, bowls, pitchers, and platters that are, in her words: “simple in shape and form.” Simple they may be, but what sets them apart is the painting: graphic forms in earth tones with bold color accents. Thimaporn also refuses to correct imperfections such as brush strokes or a clumsy angle.
3. Unique Barware
Pavel Weiser founded Verreum in Prague in 2009 to revive the lost art of silvered glass making. The company now collaborates with Czech and international designers on collections such as the Double Jeu carafe and tumblers, designed by Sacha Walckhoff. The barware features silvered bases and is a continuation of Walckhoff’s work on duality in design, the look of the bases changing with the light. The Double Jeu collection also includes vases in smoky gray, pink, and emerald green.
4. Modernist Cookware
Architect Louis Sullivan coined the maxim “form follows function” to talk about Modernist architecture and industrial design, but those words apply equally to the new Stile by Pininfarina cookware collection. The stainless-steel saucepans, frying pans, and casserole dishes are sturdy and pleasingly round and compact. They also have ergonomic handles, are suitable for all types of stovetops and ovens, and come with a lifetime guarantee.
5. Statement Sounds
The design world moves fast. One day plain and simple 3D printing is big news, next it’s 3D printing using sand. Czech studio Deeptime recently unveiled speakers shaped like snail shells and sea urchin skeletons, all made from nature’s favorite beach-building material. The sand makes the speakers heavy and solid for their size, allowing them to offer big, premium-quality sound. Unsurprisingly, the limited-edition speakers have a sandstone-like surface. Of his unusual creation, Ondřej Chotovinský, who worked on it with fellow Deeptime cofounder Martin Hřeben, observes: “We find inspiration mainly in nature—all shapes in the natural world are functional in one way or another. You’ll have a hard time finding regular cube or box shapes.”
6. Decorative Lighting
Although Aline Johnson’s studio is in the heart of London, the principal inspiration for her glass creations comes from her visits to England’s Dorset coast. The artist takes the evocative palette of stripy beachballs, seaside rock candy, and deckchairs and uses it to inform her fused glass lighting, vessels, and platters. Taking further impetus from the natural world, she casts found objects, such as feathers and leaves, to make statement chandeliers. The bulk of Johnson’s work is site-specific, and she collaborates with architects and interior and lighting designers to create spectacular one-off pieces.
7. Italian Heirlooms
After traveling through Italy in the early 1990s, American David Reiss returned full of appreciation for a material that had long since fallen out of favor in the United States. Forming relationships with family-run pewter workshops across Italy, Reiss founded his Match in 1995, and debuted 40 designs at the New York International Gift Fair to great success. Stocked at more than 700 luxury retailers around the world, including Barneys New York, Reiss has achieved his goal of bringing pewter back into favor, and today the collection comprises barware, champagne buckets, bowls, decanters and more.
8. The Cherry on Top
Ksenia Penkina’s cakes may look more like abstract oil paintings than something you might have with an espresso, but the Vancouver-based pastry chef, dubbed “The Queen of Glaze,” has attracted more than 300,000 Instagram followers with her high-gloss and often architectural creations. “I’m inspired by innovation,” says Penkina. Trained in Switzerland, Penkina insists what’s inside her cakes is as important as how they look. “Glazing is my favorite part,” she says, “but the cake itself is the most important thing—having three or four flavors is enough to understand and recognize what’s on your spoon. Balance of textures is important too; light and soft mousse, creamy layer, crunch, biscuit…” Aspiring glazers can sign up to Penkina’s online classes and she regularly hosts hands-on sessions in her studio.