Blues, Melamine Top Trends at New York Tabletop Show

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Blues, Melamine Top Trends at New York Tabletop Show

By Priscilla Martel - 12/04/2017
Several companies introduced melamine tableware including Juliska. Pictured are the Lalana plates.

From the soaring marble lobby to the modern buyers’ lounge, a refreshed Forty One Madison provided an inviting backdrop for new releases at the fall edition of the New York Tabletop Show. Alessi and British home goods designer Canvas Home opened the doors to their new showrooms in the building. And manufacturers introduced an impressive number of fresh products and line extensions. 

Blue Hues, Informal Shapes
Thinking ahead to spring and the outdoor dining season, showrooms were awash in blue — aqua, cobalt, denim, navy, peacock plus blue and white combinations. Collections launched and line extensions added highlighted the relaxed styles of dinnerware attractive to today’s consumer.

Designers interpreted blue in every style — geometric (Ralph Lauren, Lenox), classic florals (Burleigh, Vista Alegre), homespun (Ellen DeGeneres for Royal Doulton, Paula Deen/Meyer, Molly Hatch), sea creatures (Vietri, Julia Watts), stripes (Noritake), and lace (Mikasa, Rachel Ray/Meyer). Mikasa’s showroom resembled an abstract sea in shades of blue and featured fine examples of reactive glazing; Aventura is stoneware in luminous shades of aqua, and Rustic Monterey features a bold ridge motif, slip-coated in matte blues or greens. 

 “Sales of blue and white are coming back,” said Paul Wojcik from Mottahedeh, a company known for its luxury reproduction Blue Canton china. Big pieces are popular, he explained, because they can be used with every day and white china. As if to confirm this, Ellen Thompson Vietri’s public relations representative, said that the company’s Melangrana was a hit with retailers attending the show. The limited range of ginger jars and large serving pieces is decorated with cobalt blue pomegranates on white.

“You hold a plate, but you cup a bowl,” explained Michelle Nidoy, Iittala’s marketing manager. Bowls are “more comforting” she said and a powerful metaphor for the popularity of bowls and informal shapes in dinnerware today. Iittala expanded its assortment of white bowls and added a dotted gray glaze to its Teema Tiimi collection. Denby, another manufacturer associated with relaxed, functional shapes, added nesting bowls in a blue tonal glaze to Studio Craft, a line of rimless plates with a hand-thrown look that launched earlier in 2017. 

Luxury Melamine
Oprah’s Favorite Things for the 2017 holidays includes Beatriz Ball’s designer melamine trays. Heavy-weight and chip-resistant melamine hits the sweet spot for today’s tableware customer: budget-friendly yet upscale. “Vietri’s been wanting to do melamine for a while,” said Thompson of the company’s 100 percent melamine Lastra. The melamine version of the company’s signature pattern sell for about half the price of the stoneware version, she said. Fine tableware manufacturer Juliska, which debuted melamine a year ago, added tropical Lalana melamine dinnerware as well as coordinating cotton napkins to its line. Cloth accessories have been quite successful, said Elizabeth Kirst, brand communications coordinator for the company.

Melamine manufacturers are turning the tables and introducing more collections with a formal look. Q Squared’s Nancy Mosey said that when she chose to “redesign melamine,” she considered year-round, indoor as well as casual dining. At this show, Q Squared presented Moonbeam, dinnerware reminiscent of fine bone china with a metallic gold or black rim. Like fine china, their textured ruffle trays can be monogrammed. Perhaps affordable melamine will be an entry point to get shoppers more excited by dinnerware.

Glass in Colors and Textures
The spring glass forecast is texture with a chance of color. Nachman presented Bubbles barware in pale shades of blue, orange, green and pink. The hefty tumblers are coated with convex spheres that feel like stress balls in the hand. Spring 2018 should see the U. S. release of Optical O from Riedel, stemless wine glasses lined with vertical ripples. Arabesque from Luigi Bormioli is the company’s newest glass serving pieces stippled in a Moorish pattern. The effect of wind, rain or falling water on glass inspired the 2018 tumbler collections coming from Bormioli Rocco, explained Pierfrancesca Sanna, marketing manager for the company. Next year’s colors will be darker with less saturated smoky grays and blues, she said.

Windows flooded Bormioli Rocco’s new showroom with natural light showcasing its glass and a lifestyle table setting in the room’s center that Sanna created. The Instagram-ready display, a first for the company, emphasized the mix and match style typical today. The wooden hearth table set with clear glass and white ceramic plates accented with bronze flatware is a good reminder of the power of merchandising to sell housewares at all price points. 

Masculine Edge 
Pick up any home magazine and you’ll see appliances in dark metallic finishes. Major manufacturers from GE to Thermador are pulling back from stainless steel to offer dark fingerprint-resistant coatings on refrigerators, stoves and built-ins. In open kitchens, such shades let appliances make a statement or blend into the background. In tableware and cutlery, black, copper, rose gold and matte metallics are accent colors used in minimalist design and another trend this show

Alessi presented a brass collection of 17 serving pieces by Alessandro Mendini, member of the Memphis Group of postmodern designers in the 1980’s. Inspired by an Etruscan metal crafting technique called micro granulation, the round platters with irregular ruffled edges and scalloped trays have a soft glow and geometric motif. Distinctive among the offerings from Viners Cutlery, an English heritage brand just launched in the U.S. this market, were its knife sets. Matte black or gold-coated chefs’ knives are mounted on a black magnetic board. Skandia showed a similar knife set as well as gunmetal finishes on knife blades with soft grip rubber handles. The industrial look, the combination of wood, and mixed metals is on trend and characterize the cutlery and flatware from Skandia said Rachelle Partosh, Marketing Director. Dramatic designs such as chef knives in sleek sculptural shapes cast from one piece of metal may appeal to male shoppers, a demographic often absent in the tableware department.

The New York Fall Tabletop Show confirmed that more manufacturers will introduce new products just once a year. At the fall market, Zak Designs focused on its Design Direct Global subsidiary; only key retailers capable of factory direct volume were shown the new collections. Joseph Joseph will launch everything at the International Home + Housewares Show, explained Damon Willmott, senior vice president of sales. They need the time to design then register pending trademarks, he explained. Some items may be available later in the year but will be presented for consideration at IHHS, he said. 

Such changes should not deter specialty retailers from coming to the show. Gourmet specialty retailers “can make money from products from here,” said Laurie Burns, director and senior vice president of 41 Madison. She pointed to the way manufacturers in the building “mix and match both high and low” as inspiration for gourmet retailers. Burns, who stepped down Oct. 19, said that the unrivaled food scene in New York combined with the exciting new housewares floor at Bloomingdales makes a New York buying trip essential.