Exciting things are happening in the table-top market. Color has boldly stepped in. Simple designs are back.
Although country and traditional floral patterns are still very much around, bright designs in primary colors have made strong statements in tableware.
The success of the "brights" in table-top accessories, particularly the reds, whites and blacks, was the basis for continuing the trend in the new contemporary collection by Taitu U.S., a Dallas-based dinnerware company that has been in business in the United States for 10 years. Designed by co-owner Emilio Bergamin, who created the business in Italy 21 years ago, Taitu's full line of modern as well as traditional porcelain china reflects balance and symmetry in design.
Why the name Taitu? We asked co-owner Keith Smith in a recent telephone interview. He said that Bergamin named the business after Empress Taitu of Ethiopia (1889-1913), who had always been known for good taste and liking the best. Smith said that the company never discontinues a pattern and that the colors are consistent. "We're the only porcelain dinnerware with that true red color, which is very hard to get into porcelain."
The dinnerware and flatware shown here will appeal to people who go for pattern changes every now and then. "Everything with Taitu is designed like fashion," Smith said. "The layer-on-layer look is achieved . . . like ready-to-wear (clothes)."
Mix and match is the name of the game. Striking combinations are made with stripes and squares, plain or geometric, dual colored ( duo ) and solids. The uno (single color) red dinner plate for instance, is smashing with the piazza (black and white checkerboard) dessert plate, or vice versa. Simply presented but elegant nouvelle cuisine- type entrees will certainly find a place in these geometric patterned china pieces.
Since colors are so basic (there now are 14 solid colors), they're easy to match with existing accessories. "You can even layer solid plates with any old china you have . . . but coordinate in good taste and always use porcelain on porcelain," Smith advises. A selection of accessories may be also be made from Taitu's complete ensemble of stemware, vases, carafes and other complementary accompaniments.
"On the more elegant side, the San Marco pattern with its matte black base and 24-karat gold trim is exquisite with gold (or even silver) dinnerware . . . or those stemwares with gold or platinum bands," Smith said.
Not to outdo the bright colors but to please customers with more traditional taste are Taitu's pastel collection, which is now being shipped to stores. Following a European trend of grays and pastels, these solid colors will be easily matchable with existing classic designs.
Taitu's "Rotondo" flatwares pictured here are exciting with the rainbow, clear or smoke hues in their translucent acrylic handles. The salad set and dinner flatware come in red, smoke, yellow, brown, clear, green and blue colors.
The impact of the simplicity of the above designs can be applied to a minuscule, uncomplicated kitchen gadget called the Super Whisk from J and F Imports Inc., an L.A.-based distributor of culinary tools. Just introduced, this battery-operated white (with yellow trim) whisk features a two-speed motor, two detachable interchangeable whisks and a pocket-size black carrying case.
The whisk is the answer to blending diet and nutritional drinks right in the serving glass. "But what makes it convenient is that the gadget can easily be tucked into one's purse," according to Leo Dardashti, J and F's national sales manager. "The simple beater is easily detachable so the whole unit fits in the small carrying case."
The flexible whisk "blade" opens up when switched on high for fast beating and closes down on low speed. The concept isn't entirely new, according to Dardashti. J and F's product development division perfected the whisk from an invention that appeared in the market several years ago. There's a marked improvement in the blade (the first one was more brittle and tended to break), which is of flexible plastic, and the handle is designed for comfortable positioning and proper angling into the mixture, Dardashti said.
Another toy? No matter what you call it, the inexpensive whisk does work. People love it for beating those few eggs when making omelets. Or for whipping a small amount of cream for their cappuccino. A little meringue to fluff up a glass of plain eggnog. No, forget about big egg productions like souffles or angel food cakes because the Super Whisk will only do small jobs. But don't forget to allow ample head space when mixing . . . nobody wants messy splatters.
The Taitu contemporary collection of dinnerware and Rotondo flatware (all dishwasher proof) are available at By Design at the Beverly Center, Neiman-Marcus and selected Bullock's stores. The suggested retail price for a five-piece dinnerware place setting ranges from $40 to $55, a five-piece flatware place setting for about $25.
The Super Whisk from J and F Imports Inc. is just hitting the gourmet shops but is now available in some stores like The Kitchen Corner in La Canada and Kitchen A'Ware in West Covina and Diamond Bar. Suggested retail price is $9.99.