Since the beginning of time, tableware has been an integral part of our lives. Without which we would not have been able to advance in feeding ourselves, the uses of pottery and cutlery have helped us understand early human development and advancement. There are evidence of earlier ceramic pottery that include bowls, jugs and mugs. These are proof of our first steps into sophistication and creativity.
Amongst the most highly regarded tableware is fine bone china. This has been an integral part of using good quality cutlery and was often used with aristocrats displaying a fancy banquet for guests. It was not only a tool for the table at dinners but also a fine and passionate collectible item. This was, and still is, a highly recommended piece of material to use at the dinner table.
Also more commonly used are ceramic pottery and jugs, which were better to use in ovens and fire kilns. This became the highlight of the Bronze Age, which used clay and sand to form a hard stone. This was also a time for the first instances of jewellery and stoneware. This took our civilisation further into understanding how to use different elements to create useful tools.
Nowadays tableware has become a fashionable movement introducing different shapes, colours and fusing Eastern with Western cultures for more authentic styles. These are also designed to cater to various food tastes. Tabletop designing has fast become a fashion must have for many restaurants as it has done for clothing, cars, make-up and interior design home accessories.
The designing process also allows restaurants to add variety to their menus and palate, giving consumers more options. This also creates a homely atmosphere when people opt to dine out, which promotes comfort and diversity. Where tableware was used as essential tool for consuming food, it has now become part of the dining experience, which includes dramatically changing the appearance to create a specific style on tabletops everywhere.
The shapes, colours and styles of the tableware have made a transition from sharp edged square shapes to curved and rounded. Other styles such as change in colour, as the designs have become much simpler in style. However, some plates and bowls have taken a more bold design using bright colours, yet continuing with the trend of using simply patterns.
Some dishes have come in softer more gentle shapes, such as rectangular with rounded edges, teardrop shaped appetizer dishes or even oval shaped bowls with a softened contoured lining. Silver and gold plated dishes are also still a favourite with the chefs for an even more elegant and exquisite look to the menu.
Cutlery has seen the more significant transition, as originally this was just a knife and a spoon. The fork followed on much later, making it easier and safer to consume food. Today cutlery come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, from deep dipped soup spoons to curved and jagged edges of a knife. Many of these are made from steel or silver, which are often found in silver service restaurants.
Glassware are still an important part of tabletop designing, with some dining places offering tumblers for water, juices, beer or even champagne for an added variety. Glasses can come tinted or clear, yet using glassware is no longer a posh styling for dinner sets. It is also becoming ever more creative and bold, with some restaurants pouring wine in blue tinted glasses.
Tablecloths and linen ware are also a vital part of dinner set designs. Without this, the tabletop sets will not stand out as much they are intended to, hence the change in linen styles and the use of many different shades and colours complimenting the restaurant menu and food taste. Tableware have moved from being one of the most important tools and pieces of history for discovering human advancement, to continuing to be an essential part of creative development and also falling into the world of fashion.
Anna Stenning is an expert on tableware, having helped to design and set up many dinner places at restaurants.