Interested in learning about dinnerware styles and designs? Here's how to get started.
Learn the basic terms. There are some simple, basic items that you are most likely familiar with. Some of these terms include cookware, tableware, kitchenware, drinkware and serving pieces and it's good to learn the differences between them.
- Cookware or kitchenware are items that you use for cooking and preparing food, and therefore should be made of material that does not melt even when subjected to extreme heat.
- Tableware are items set on the table, and it encompasses terms like flatware (dishes and cutlery such as spoons and forks) and holloware (pitchers and bowls).
- Drinkware refers to vessels that people use to drink from, such as cups, mugs, goblets, glasses and teacups.
- Serving pieces or serving dishes include trays, salvers and platters.
Know what they're made of. Dinnerware can be made out of a variety of materials. Some of the most common materials include those used since ancient times like porcelain, earthenware and stoneware, and the more modern plastic and paper.
- Porcelain is made out of materials (such as clay) heated at very high temperatures in a kiln. Porcelain is also popularly known as "china". It is known for its strength and delicate translucence, and it is commonly associated with elegance and grace; hence people usually use "their best china" whenever they have company at home.
- Stoneware is a kind of fine ceramic. Since it is essentially made of stone, it is very tough, durable and resistant to scratches. It is typically easy to maintain, as you can use it in the microwave or dishwasher. Stoneware was the most common dinnerware in the United States during the 19th century.
- Earthenware is also made of ceramic material. It generally gives an impression of earthiness and naturalness when used as dinnerware. Compared to stoneware, however, it is actually less strong and durable; its main advantage is its very low cost.
- Plastic dinnerware came into fashion during the 1950's, and the material commonly used is melamine resin. The main problem with dinnerware made of melamine resin is that they are easily scratched and stained, and they are not resistant to extreme temperatures and are therefore not for microwave use. However, some brands like the US-based Formica, have developed melamine resin kitchenware that is more heat-resistant and easier to clean.
- Glass dinnerware, such as the brand Corelle, is typically much thinner and lightweight than other dinnerware. Its drawback is that it is susceptible to breakage due to exposure to sudden high temperatures.
Know which style dinnerware to use. Knowing what dinnerware sets to choose from the wide variety available is important. Your choice would typically depend on the occasion. Porcelain is mostly used to entertain guests. Normal, casual dinners could call for glass or cream stoneware. Plastic dinnerware are typically used during outdoor activities, and paper plates are used during kiddie parties.
Know which design to use. The design you choose would largely depend on your personal tastes. In restaurants, for example, you might notice that plates are usually plain white. This is to enable you to give more attention to the food and how it was served. Plain white plates also lend a clean and refreshing impression to the whole dining experience. If you have kids or teenagers at home, you could opt for bright and durable dinnerware sets that would give extra fun and funk to eating. Brands that boast of vivid colors and patterns for dinnerware include Fiesta Dinnerware and Gibson Dinnerware. You could also choose among different sizes and shapes; though plates are typically in the shape of a circle, rectangular or square options are fast becoming popular.
This is just some basic information to help you get to know dinnerware styles and designs. Remember, when choosing which to use it largely depends on your personal taste and inclination, and the occasion as well.