Piece by Piece: Tableware by Maxwell Ryan & Canvas Home
I love good design. My new tableware line with Canvas Home is meant to be just that, not just another set of plates and glasses, but modular, mixable, design solution and the only set your home will ever need. With the launch this past week, I wanted to give you the skinny on each piece. Why? What’s it for? Why is it cool? All these questions will be answered and some of the small design decisions shared to give you insight into what’s so special about this stuff and why I can’t wait to clear out my cabinets and use my own set.
The Two Colors
Food absolutely looks best on a white plate, but I far prefer a little warmth over the cold white of most typical porcelain plates. English creamware is close to perfect, which is why I chose its soft, creamy hue and then mixed it with a warm grey version to provide contrast.
The two colors are meant to be used separately or mixed (I would mix) and it was Andrew Corrie’s idea to throw the white with a surprising matte finish, while leaving the grey in gloss. With these subtle differences to play with you can create a fabulously stylish table that will show off your cooking to its best advantage.
The Three Glasses
This is my perfect trio. I’ve always loved the simple honesty of well shaped stemless glasses, the kind you get at classic French cafes and Italian restaurants where the only thing that matters is the tasty food. And like a great restaurant, you should have only a few shapes that do everything you need, take up little space and keep your cabinets free of the unused “fancy” sets that you only use when your parents come over.
These three glasses are meant to be the only set you ever buy (with the possible exception of champagne flutes!). Between the smallest and the tallest you can serve water, juice, wine, whiskey, beer, milk and water. They are exactly sized to be perfect fractions of one another, and the middle glass is curved more at the top to hold the aroma of a white or red wine for a full flavor experience.
The Two Bowls
Most tableware sets come with one bowl (it’s called a “cereal bowl”) and I think that isn’t good enough. I use smaller bowls all the time for serving or storing food and have to resort to buying other shapes. This set solves that problem and comes with both a “cereal bowl” and what we’re calling a “yogurt bowl” for smaller moments. It’s for everything from children’s portions, to serving olives, to yogurt, to putting a small amount of leftovers safely away in your fridge. I think you may find you use the smaller one even more, but you tell me.
The Three Plates
These three plates are very similar to classic English styles that I found in London but have been adapted for a new generation with a generous wide rim, attractive elevation and a light weight. One of the toughest jobs in the design process was getting these traditional shapes down to the right weight. I sent back numerous prototypes and we shaved off many ounces in order to create a set that could easily be picked up and carried to the table.
The “dinner” plate, “salad” plate and “pasta” bowl are designed to stack in concentric circles and continue down to the yogurt bowl. Mix the colors and finishes for greatest effect.
The Two Mugs
Inspired by a hand thrown mug I’ve had for years as well as the stunning modern Teema design by Kaj Franck, I designed the smaller mug from the ground up to be a bit more generous and suit my own tea drinking habits. The sides gently open up as they rise and the two finger handle is placed lower than usual to provide a better center of gravity.
When the smaller one was finished, Andrew Corrie, who is British, critiqued it for being TOO small for Americans, who, he said, prefer a bigger cup. A small tempest ensued until we settled on designing a second mug for the nice big cup of coffee. War was averted.
The Three Linens
The three way linens are the final piece of this design solution. While I’m a big fan of table cloths and consider them an requirement for a stylish and cozy table, tablecloths have to come in too many sizes and shapes to suite American tables, so most stores will not sell them. My solution was to borrow a trick from French cafes that simply throw a runner across a table to make a “double place mat” for two people.
The three colors? Very simply they are three moods for morning, midday or evening: natural, salmon or wine. Use them or mix them up to create your own striking table.