Kicking Off a New Year with Color

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Kicking Off a New Year with Color

By Priscilla Martel - 12/02/2014

The Fall New York Tabletop Market gave retailers a sneak peek into what's to come in 2015. This year's market, which took place Oct. 21-24 at Forty One Madison, was a riot of color and sensuous textures. Product lineups demonstrated an all-out willingness by manufactures of high and low to appeal to contemporary casual dining habits.

A Sea of Color
Whether it is the popularity of live-in and open kitchens where everything is on view or the trend to express one's personality through tableware, color dominates manufacturers' attention. Pumpkin, squash, tangerine and other fiery fall colors figured notably among new launches. Staub added Burnt Orange to its enameled cast iron line, its only new color for 2014. The company's Burnt Orange pumpkin shape that launched in August, "will be a very long lasting SKU," says Laura Catalano, sales staff at Zwilling J.A. Henckels of the success of the new form and color.

Warm orange hues are among the trending colors. Pictured is Staub's new Burnt Orange enameled cast iron pot.

Along the same color palette, Rachael Ray dinnerware lines from Meyer Corp. feature Ray's favorite colors – bright, vivid and mature shades of reds and orange.

In terms of sell through, blue continues to dominate. The show was a sea of navy, turquoise and indigo. At Gibson Overseas, Roy Chung, marketing manager, says Gibson identified blue as a 2015 trend "specifically because it is ubiquitous in so many countries and markets."

The demand for blue helped QSquared sell its melamine tableware in 2014. "We found rich and unique blues to be the colors that drew the most interest from our clients during the show and throughout the past year," says Shannon McAlpine, director of sales. She attributes its popularity to "a classic color scheme and a more traditional take on design," something "unexpected" in melamine.

Denby added Porridge, a neutral hue, in its stoneware.

And if you need further convincing, Staub's Catalano confirmed that Dark Blue is its best-selling color in both cast iron and ceramics.

Serene natural hues made a strong showing too. Such shades are meant to counterbalance the stresses of the electronic age, notes Robert Story, vice president creative/design at Gibson Overseas, which presented a "Look Book" of six themed tableware collections. Its Au Naturale assortment speaks directly to this aesthetic. It consists of modern silhouettes of plates, bowls and serviceware made from tinted clay with transparent glazes in pale earth and jewel tones. Asian-inspired rimless bowls and plates with irregular, striated rims have that hand-hewn feel, a style that makes people feel "comfortable at home," explains Story.

This collection, which will be translated into 12- or 16-piece dinnerware sets, was "the highlight" for retailers that visited the showroom, says Story.

Always in Style
White still dominates sales, according to several showroom reps. "White is still the lion's share of porcelain sales," says Maria Baxley, advertising & design, BIA Cordon Bleu.

New textures and finishes are dressing up white tableware. Robinson Home's Oneida introductions typify the way that surface ornament is being used to infuse a neutral with personality. Patterns in four new 16-piece porcelain sets have embossed rims. The Kato, for example, mimics a classic Japanese wave pattern; Ori has a pleated rim. (A company first, the same motifs are being used in dinnerware and flatware categories.) Bonjour Brand's Heirloom Harvest Cream, a basket weave texture with exposed clay accents, is another example where texture adds interest to a plate set created for mass appeal. Cream and gray introductions were prevalent too, such as Denby's new porridge glaze, another contemporary neutral.

The vivid colors of Villeroy & Boch's Amazonia are complemented by a delicate band of gold.

At this market, some manufacturers tucked away square and rectangular stock in favor of traditional round forms. Villeroy & Boch, for one, has applied its Amazonia design to its classic Anmut base. But Gibson's Choy says that square shapes are "resonating." He says results of their recently conducted consumer survey on dinnerware patterns and shape indicate 70 percent of the top patterns all were some kind of square.

Equally in evidence was the universal acceptance of the mix-and-match style of table setting. Whether giving the table a bohemian or tailored look, multiple designs in a given collection or among collections from the same manufacturer are the new normal across all price points.

Lifestyle Merchandising
Partnerships and collaborations with contemporary artists continue to expand manufacturers' marketing opportunities. French oven-to-table porcelain manufacturer Revol showcased a collection curated by chef and grill expert Elizabeth Karmel. Gibson's new partnership with Ree Drummond, creator of "The Pioneer Woman" blog and TV show, created a lot of great buzz, even though product will not be available until late in 2015.

Gibson's new CrockPot line of cookware includes enameled cast iron in this luxurious blue shade.

Gibson also announced its new CrockPot non-electric slow cookers and other bakeware, "a natural translation" for the brand, says Chung, adding that results of a Harris Poll identified CrockPot as the No. 1 kitchen brand for consumer recognition. A first foray outside the small appliance category, the line consists of 20 SKUs in cast iron and ceramic cookware in assorted colors – and will be available in Bed Bath Beyond and other retail stores.

Bright colors, such as the ones on these lacquered bamboo bowls from Gibson, and blues are popular in tabletop.

Many showrooms employed the mix-and-match style of an online storefront like One King's Lane to display their merchandise. Gibson's Story says the company identifies its customers and builds customer profile "personalities" based on customer wants then creates and displays products designed to appeal to each type, "the Anthropology Girl or the Pottery Barn Girl," for example. The merchandising is more editorial than the traditional showroom lined with plates. Instead stacks of bowls are placed adjacent to cups, glasses and dinnerware at different heights all accented with napkins and large service pieces.

For retailers, the groupings in a collection illustrated "the whole trend put together," says Gibson's Grace Saari. Table displays, such as those at Gibson, were like a story board that helps retailers envision what will be on their shelves.

And like merchandising oversized wheels of cheese accented with cut wedges, statement pieces of tableware were used to bring buyers into showrooms. Michael Wainwright offers key customers his one-of-a-kind art pottery prototypes to use in their stores. Such displays remind us of the power of presentation to attract consumer interest.

Asked about the impact on traffic of new kitchenware retail showrooms from such manufacturers as Zak Designs and Joseph Joseph, Burns says the core stores and core brands come to the building. Now such products might be found "in kitchen, the kid's playroom, mixed and matched with Lenox." She calls it the "new world" of retail where e-tailers, retailers with online and specialty stores, are the new face of the industry.

New Products
Hylton Steak Knives
Argent Orfèvres, a Hampton Forge brand, introduces Hylton steak knives. The design pairs a contemporary contoured shape with handles made of resin and exotic olivewood. The knives, fashioned from mirror finished pressed 18/10 stainless steel, are available with three handles: olivewood, white iridescent snake skin design or a geometric in carbon fiber. SRP: $175 for 4-piece set.
Hampton Forge, Eatontown, N.J., 732-389-5507 ext. 203, www.hamptonforge.com
Cooking Elements
Cooking Elements is Villeroy & Boch's modern yet classic line of oven-to-table porcelain. New to the collection are three essential kitchen utensils. The Spice Grinder is an adjustable ceramic mill with a glass body and easy-to-grip silicone casing available in gray or beige. The Mortar and Pestle set (SRP: $57.50) has a wide mortar and broad pestle that are designed with heft for efficiency. The Lemon Squeezer (SRP: $27.50) has a tapered design that fits the hand. Each porcelain piece is chip-resistant and dishwasher safe.
Villeroy & Boch, Monroe Township, N.J, 800-536-2284, www.villeroy-boch.com
Arctic Glass
Zak Designs has become the exclusive worldwide distributor for Arctic Glass. These products feature a double wall of high-end borosilicate glass that can withstand extreme temperature fluctuations. Arctic Glass products have a unique liquid injected between the two walls and a patented feature that allows the products to go to the freezer from the dishwasher without the liquid expanding and cracking the glass. After an hour in the freezer, the natural and non-toxic liquid is cold enough to allow the Arctic Glass products to chill beverages to the perfect drinking temperature. Arctic Glass products can keep beverages at that ideal drinking temperature for up to 30 minutes.
The line includes a 14- and 8.5-ounce pilsner beer glass; a 10.5-, 8-, and 6-ounce standard glass; a 1.5-ounce shot glass; and an 11.5-ounce freeze bowl. Sold in sets. SRPs: $19.99 -$39.99.
Zak Designs Inc., Spokane, Wash., 970-985-4605, www.zak.com
Ooh La La! Tableware
Designers of the Ooh La La! tableware found inspiration in a French flea market and grandma's attic for this new collection of mix-and-match items. The assortment of bowls, plates, cups, mugs and accessories is meant to work with pieces in one's own collection. Colors and patterns in this open stock assortment feature complementary shades of Poppy, Marigold, Orange, Ocean Blue, Grass Green, Lilac and Smoke in solid and mix-and-match patterns. Available March 2015. Items include 4.75-inch flare bowls, 5-inch everyday bowls, 6-inch footed bowls and 7-inch deep bowls as well as textured teacups, 3.5-inch tidbit dishes, 8-inch salad plates, 11-inch oblong server and 10.5-inch dinner plate. SRPs: $3.99 to $19.99.
BIA Cordon Bleu, San Francisco, Calif., 866-553-2800, www.biacordonbleu.com
Olive Market
Twig New York introduces Olive Market, a graphic black and white design on fine bone china designed for everyday use. The eclectic motifs incorporate eggplants, radishes, plums, pears, olives and other edibles applied to various forms in the collection. The pieces in the line include a shallow bowl, squat mug and saucer as well as rimless plates in assorted sizes. The company is a new division of Hankook Chinaware, one of Korea's highest quality ceramic tableware manufacturers. SRPs: $18.57 to $80.
Twig New York, New York, N.Y., 646-559-4116, www.twigny.com