I am one of those people who believes in using white dinner plates. Mine are some of my favorite objects I own, a mix of the inexpensive hand-me-down set that I got at a castoffs giveaway at work years ago and my great aunt’s sturdy, vintage ironstone that I recently inherited. They’re white ceramic and incredibly simple, but, like little blank canvases, they make whatever’s on them look good (even if I’m having cheese and crackers for dinner for the third night in a row). Whenever I set the table with them—even if that’s plonking two plates and a couple of forks down—they somehow make the whole thing look crisp and put together. I’ve never considered straying.
Yet lately I’ve been wondering if it’s time to set them aside—just for a minute—in favor of bold, colorful, playful ceramic dinner plates. There are so many out there at the moment, in surprising two-tone palettes, vibrant hues, and bold patterns, by independent ceramicists and well-known retailers alike. Many of them are hand-painted or glazed. And I recognize they add a certain sense of joy and levity to the tabletop that white plates just can’t.
Maybe it’s time to adopt a set of Weekend Plates—when dinners in call for just a bit more celebration and color, just because.
Take a look at these 13 favorites, in riotous patterns and colors ranging from bright to super soft.
Melbourne-based Daisy Cooper’s side plates ($35 each) have organic, no-two-are-the-same washes of blues and peach.
A modern take on Italian spatterware: the hand-painted Splatter Dessert Plate ($24) in robins-egg blue, designed by cookbook author and food writer Skye McAlpine, sure to make small plates of fruit, cake, or just about anything look good.
This French Porcelain Caractère Dinnerware is made from black clay with a glaze of color. My favorite? Sunny, summer-ready turmeric ($82 for a dinner and salad plate).
For mix-and-match color and pattern, there are hand-painted, Danish-designed Dansk Vandvid Ceramics in indigo and rust; $60 for a set of two small platters (which happen to work quite nicely as plates).
The Speckled Low Bowls by Montreal-based Mérida Anderson come in dusty peach, emerald, cobalt, and rose (and are “perfect for the ‘do I need a bowl or a plate’ snack”). These are currently sold out, but keep an eye on YYY Collection for more.
Another from Helen Levi: the Ocean Dinner and Lunch Plates, each with a wisp of turquoise marbling ($62 for a dinner plate).
Philadelphia-made Felt+Fat ceramics come in a wide array of colorways, from bold lemon to pink marble, but their softer hues—like the blush and aqua shown here—are a subtle change from white for those looking to dip their toe into color on the dinner table. A dinner plate is $46.
And finally, this Russel Wright-designed mid-century modern design icon that’s so easy to dress up or dress down (Wright called these the “little black dress” of dinnerware). These handmade ceramics come in a range of mouthwatering colors—think: coral, chartreuse, and seafoam.
How do you like your dinnerware—all-white or colorful? Tell us in the comments below.