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Bringing Out the Brands In Frankfurt

By Allison Zisko

AmbienteTop-to-bottom: Wedgwood's Daisy is the company's newest tea collection. wedgwood.com; Royal Crown Derby's dramatic reinvention included this Steampunk pattern. royalcrownderby.co.uk; A monochromatic tabletop design came from Jersey Pottery. jerseypottery.com; The Ron Arad-designed decanter from Nude. nudeglass.com

Last month's Ambiente fair in Frankfurt, Germany, provided a platform for tabletop companies to engage in brand building. There were brand introductions, brand extensions and brand re-inventions from many well-known players in the industry.

In the brand-new category there was Nude, a division of Turkish glass company Pasabahce, which offers contemporary, design-oriented pieces. The Milan, Italy-based company introduced a stemware and barware collection from designer Ron Arad that included a piece of stemware with a bowl at both ends, so that it could be used as a red wine glass or, flipped over, as a white wine glass. It also showcased a decanter that was nearly a perfect circle, its slim opening incorporated into the arc of the circle. Nude also includes the Loft collection of decorative tabletop that combines materials, such as concrete or wood, with glass in shades of white, gray or pink. Nude is also partnering with Guzzini on the glass version of Guzzini's Belle Epoque collection.

Another new tabletop brand introduced in Frankfurt was Hankook, a shape-based, mostly whiteware collection, and Twig N.Y., a youth-oriented casual bone china line. These brands were created by Hankook Chinaware, the Korean company that also owns Prouna. Both Hankook and Twig N.Y. will make their American debut at the New York Tabletop Show next month.

The brand-extension group included companies like Wedgwood, which extended its tea story with a new, full coverage bone china collection called Daisy in pink, brown and pale blue as well as actual tea, developed, in part, by Lord Wedgwood, who passed away earlier this year. Wedgwood has also delved into premium scented candles, as its sister company Waterford did a few seasons ago, introducing six candles in its best patterns and designs.

Villeroy & Boch, meanwhile, is putting its name to a line of bath products and accessories that include linens, and Finnish company iitala unveiled a collection of table lamps, made of concrete and glass, that should be available in the U.S. by fall, as well as shelving units, small tables and felt bags. Many other upstairs tabletop companies, including Lladro, Rosenthal, Waterford and others, continued to explore new ways to present age-old materials like porcelain and crystal. They have pushed into lighting, decorative accessories, furniture and jewelry.

In the brand-reinvention business is Richard Ginori, acquired by Gucci last year, which showcased several dinnerware patterns that highlight its craftsmanship and play homage to the Italian landscape.

The looks are more traditional Ginori, though the colors are bright and trend-right. Royal Crown Derby, now owned by Steelite, presented a totally new face to the industry with seven new collections that are a complete departure from what the brand has been known for.

In terms of trends seen at the show, classic forms are getting a reboot; monochromatic, pen-and-ink-like drawings are emerging; blue is big; lace designs are still popular; cooling products are big in barware; tea products and accessories continue to grow; and horse figures and themes that celebrate the Chinese Year of the Horse abound.