Time was when plastic – or Melamine – plates and bowls were just for children or picnics. Their robustness verses breakable china made them ideal for everyday summer dining, but they did lack a certain pizazz. Mostly coming in patterns that were plain to the point of dullness or dressed in the insignia of children’s favourite cartoon characters – think Beatrix Potter, Thomas the Tank Engine or any Disney character, they were not the most inspiring dining option. While fine for children’s tea and parties, it wasn’t a good look at a summer soiree for family and friends.
Happily, in recent years designers have taken on this most ordinary of kitchen accessories and added some style so that they won’t look out of place at the most sophisticated of parties.
Taking their cue from the trend for handmade ceramics, many manufacturers are now creating Melamine pieces that, from a distance at least, appear to be handcrafted china featuring wobbly edges and faded motifs to help them be more realistic.
Alongside specifically child-oriented pieces, such as Cath Kidston’s Dinosaur range, or the fun Unicorn design from Rex London’s, there are plenty of sophisticated designs in stores right now. If you’re after something abstract but painterly, then try the National Museum Shop features Murlough Bay View tumblers and plates, while John Lewis’s Poolside range includes a set of four plates featuring bold Miami-influenced designs in strong ice-cream shades. All the latest trends are covered, too, with plenty of tropical botanicals and animal motifs on offer.
For a completely different look, try designs that are created to replicate other, much heavier materials such as the faux marble designs from Next and Audenza or Next’s convincing wood-look platter. If you want your pieces to look like real china, then try Sainsbury’s Home for bowls, plates and tumblers that are all very convincing.
We've enjoyed sitting outdoors this long summer and the many picnics in our parks and gardens. As we turn into the autumn months, we are looking to move our picnics indoors and prepare our kitchen for hosting parties. Is your kitchen ready for hosting?
Visit our gallery or Instagram page for more inspiration.