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Tabletop Awards of Excellence

Posted on June 3, 2011 by HFN Staff

GIFTWARE: Michael Wainwright

A meeting with a representative from the U.S. Capitol in February led to the creation of Michael Wainwright's U.S. Capitol Collection in April, a fabulous rendering of the U.S. Capitol dome in white porcelain and 24-karat gold. Wainwright said he typically sketches three-dimensionally in clay, and the idea to have the interior and the exterior of the bowl mimic the interior and exterior of the actual dome came together very easily. It also gave the Massachusetts-based craftsman the opportunity to focus on what he does best: "My first love is to be in my studio, making things." The large bowl, measuring about 18 to 19 inches in diameter, is a studio piece and only five or so will be made, but Wainwright also created a Capitol collection that includes a smaller bowl, cheese boards, nut dishes, a Seder plate, bud vase and dinnerware (when you stack the dinner, salad and charger plates together, the border design recreates the look of the dome's interior.) The program was well-received by his major accounts at the New York Tabletop Show, Wainwright said, and has inspired him to create another collection based on other famous domes from around the world. michaelwainwright.com


CRYSTAL: Steuben

Steuben, which is sharpening its focus on core tabletop categories, last month introduced the Crosshatch collection, a sophisticated line of stemware, barware and giftware that imbues a minimal mid-century design with a sense of energy through etched crosshatching. The resulting crisscross pattern demonstrates kinetic movement when twirled. The simply cut, thick stem and hourglass shape make these pieces easy to hold and comfortable in the hand, while the etching conveys a sense of delicacy and refinement. Crosshatch, one of two new spring patterns, adds dimension and depth to Steuben's growing suite of drinkware. "Crosshatch is an important part of our product assortment," said Robert Nachman, vice president of design and marketing. "Our aesthetic tends to focus on the purity of our crystal and the beauty of the form. This leads to a streamlined look with less ornamentation. We know, however, that there is a customer out there who wants a more decorative look involving cut glass. This would be Steuben's modern take on traditional cut glass." The collection was "extremely well received by retailers at market" who felt it would have great appeal for a transitional customer who is looking for a modern take on a classic, Nachman said. steuben.com


FLATWARE: Hampton Forge

Hampton Forge has partnered with designer Laurie Gates to create a line of Laurie Gates by Hampton flatware to complement Gates' colorful, floral-themed dinnerware. The new assortment includes 21 patterns, designed in Gates' California studio, many of which are instantly recognizable, such as Anna, Dekko, Grace, Hailey and Chloe. "We didn't stop with the pattern," said Suso Balanza, vice president of sales. "We also drew upon Gates' key color palettes, offering both stainless steel and colored handle options. There are many fine details in this flatware, and so many options for mixing and matching to complete a Laurie Gates table. Even Laurie himself will mix and match--displaying an Anna plum color-handled five-piece place setting with a plum Dekko plate, for instance."

While the flatware patterns expertly relate back to the dinnerware, they can also easily stand alone, broadening the collection's appeal. The collection will be made available to mass merchants and department store retailers, with a suggested price of $159.99 for a 40-piece set. hamptonforge.com


GLASSWARE: Robinson Home Products

Echodesign's new Whitman glassware by Robinson Home Products would fit right in on the set of Mad Men. In fact, it was named after one of the characters on the popular television show. The collection has a retro-Hollywood feel to it, said Meg Lesser Roberts, Echodesign's design director for home, and a slight mid-century modern aesthetic. "We love the relaxed elegance that makes this product timeless," said Lesser Roberts. "It feels special without being precious." Whitman's pebbly texture was created by spraying fused glass over the bottom half of the existing shape; the demarcation between smooth and textured glass comes from a platinum band ringing the center. "We wanted a glass that worked with several patterns," said Kelly Carhat-Kline, director of strategic marketing for Robinson Home Products. "It's beautiful glassware, great for entertaining, and goes well with other designs out there." echodesign.com



Last year Gibson assumed the design, marketing and distribution responsibilities for Nambe dinnerware, and that agreement bore fruit at the Tabletop Show in April with the introduction of Gibson's Nambe Butterfly collection and other pieces. The shapes are true to the original Nambe design and the colorways are striking. "We are launching several new patterns in the Nambe collection, as well as infusing new energy into two of the heirloom patterns through the use of debossed patterns and swirled pigment," said Michael Kinsler, Gibson's creative director. "Our swirled pigment technique resembles Italian marble, making each piece a unique work of art. It layers beautifully on our translucent solids and our metallic glazes. Our goal was to add depth and richness to the line that complemented the Nambe brand." Market response to the collection has been "phenomenal," according to Kinsler. "Nambe is already a well-established brand with luxury retailers, thanks to their high-end metal pieces. But partnering with Gibson's expertise in ceramics has opened up the possibilities for their dinnerware, with bold new interpretations in shape and color that retailers and consumers continue to recognize as distinctively Nambe." Nambe President Bob Varakian was equally pleased. "Gibson has an impressive launch of dinnerware," he said during the Show. "There are unique finishes and treatments in keeping with the organic feeling of Nambe." gibsonusa.com