Is colourful and casual still the trend for tableware or is it back to the classic look? Donald Gasper looks at recent trends.

With society’s rising affluence, the choice of tableware has become a natural consideration not only for accomplished chefs but also for people who know that the dining table is a backdrop for the everyday. But when it comes to the colour and design of tableware, the market is flooded with a dazzling smorgasbord of choices. The big question is: Does colourful and casual tableware still dictate the trend on the dining table or are we headed for a revisit to the classic look?

Gill Head, marketing manager at tableware supplier Artis, believes it is fair to say that the relaxed styles of tableware more commonly found in casual-dining establishments are spreading to more formal spaces. “The re-emergence of colour and the continuance of a somewhat rustic theme were key trends for 2016.”

Head also says the tendency towards sharing platters and tapas-style small plates is now firmly established in the casual-dining sector, and elements of this are now percolating through to more formal venues.

Coloured and modern-looking

“Coloured and modern-looking crockery is certainly an ongoing trend,” says Stella Pai, a senior marketing executive of Athena Tableware’s Hong Kong regional office. “It is considered one of the forms for both users and ceramic designers to express their individualism through their artistry, with creative, sometimes bold yet over-the-top themes to express their pursuit of light-hearted pleasure and to add more spice to their lifestyles.”

Athena Tableware is based in Lincolnshire in the UK with its main business focused on supplying tableware to hotels, restaurants and food services. Its first range under the name Athena was launched in 2005 and since then it has been committed to product design and development for catering professionals. The head office keeps focus on design and strategy, while the company’s sales office in Birmingham provides personalised solutions to all the needs of its customers. Parallel to this, there is a regional office in Hong Kong to cope with the emerging Asia market.

Serving the world through a growing distributors network, Athena Tableware remains focused on satisfying its customers through innovative designs and trustworthy quality. The company also cooperates with famous designers such as Nick Munro to pursue perfect ranges.

Meanwhile, drawing on over 70 years of tradition and knowledge, Luzerne is another firm that designs and creates fine tableware for a range of industries, from hospitality to retail. Today, the brand is a trusted companion in both Michelin-starred restaurants and the simple kitchen.

“Food brings people together. And the choice of tableware can ingeniously complement a dish, be it a truffle specialty or simple fare in the backyard. We look at tableware as a creative extension of everyday life and do not restrict ourselves to the confines of what is trending,” says Elaine Lek, head of branding, Luzerne Global. “We encourage people to explore the intricate relationship between their food and how it is plated. This is why our collections, Tin Tin and Drizzle, place particular emphasis on this.”

Luzerne Drizzle

Colours remain a strong influence, along with demand for interesting shapes.

‘Grab and go’

Heather Brooks, sales director at Primeware Ceramics, says: “For us, the main growth area is tableware for finger foods, either in porcelain or melamine. This would appear to be a direct consequence of the growing trend towards ‘grab and go’ and street food. These trends have led to consumers becoming far more comfortable with eating with their hands and this relaxed attitude is now finding its way into formal dining environments.”

Traditionally, the shape and style of glassware were designed so that they would not overshadow the essence of what the vessel contained, says Pai. However, through the application of more unconventional designs and vivid colours, it is increasingly used to create a chic visual surprise, especially in boutique hotels and bistros.

“Hence, the classic does and will always have its own undeniable stand in the formal setting of wine and dine. Tradition will not fade away, as that has been a long-lasting standard of the realisation of humans’ senses, perceptions and historical influences.

“Still, the trend of crockery and glassware is always fluctuating on a wave, surfing together with society and economy around the world. Subculture and minimalism have set in to have a strong impact on our lives so that we will expect more of discreetly fascinating ideas for casual and semi-formal dining. In the end, the captivating part will not be what styles are trending but how we place the elements together in the playground and make them work together.”