(iittala Kastehemli bowls in clear. Source)
Today I want to talk about plates. Mundane as it sounds, I love quality dinnerware. In part, it’s because good plates and a thoughtful table-setting are so often the backdrop of memorable meals. And this goes beyond entertaining. Manny and I cook a lot (or at least we did when we still had a kitchen), and I look forward to getting home from work on the nights I teach late and sitting down to dinner together. Plates are just plates, but they frame the food we share.
When Manny and I were planning our wedding, we were encouraged to set up a wedding registry. At first we were wary; our wedding was in Savannah, though most of our friends lived in New York and other locales in the Northeast. Was it fair to set up a registry when we were already asking people to travel to be with us to celebrate the start of our marriage?
(Fresh table setting with iittala Teema in white. Source)
Our families put it in a new light for us, though. They made clear that there were relatives and longstanding friends who, far from seeing our registry as a selfish gimme, would want to know how they could contribute as we set up a home.
And I look back on the whole process with a warm glow of gratitude. Our house and everyday lives are made more pleasant and more lovely in all kinds ways by the generosity people showed us. I’m planning a full post on wedding registries down the road, but for now, I want to continue with an occasional feature — Bungalow Favorites — by turning to the everyday dinnerware we chose for our registry: iittala Teema.
(iittala Teema plates in white; Essence wine glasses; and Kartio medium tumbler in seablue. Source)
I put a lot of thought into this choice of dinnerware. Too much. But as you’re learning already, I bet, my love of research is outta control and I don’t make decisions about style or substance on a whim. Also, just note that this is not a paid endorsement by the company or a post affiliated with them in any way. I’m just talking about iittala because I love their products.
Iittala Teema spoke to me because of its clean Nordic simplicity and high quality. The company is Finnish and their mission is as follows (taken from the company’s official website): “We believe that in today’s increasingly disposable world people value things that are well-designed and made to outlive changing times and trends.” Two of their biggest-name designers include the late, great Alvar Aalto and Kaj Franck.
(Aalto vase in clear; Kastehemli in clear. Source)
To this end, the products are built to last, with quality materials and effortless, substantive style. As a consequence, I suppose, the products are also not cheap. A quick look at the wares on Finnstyle.com reveals that Teema-style dinner plates, for instance, go for about 26 USD a pop. To build up a collection of place settings for eight, we’re talking some serious change. I know, by contrast, IKEA sells perfectly nice white plates with clean lines at a fraction of the cost, but we wanted to make an investment in something that wasn’t easily disposable. Iittala’s products also remind me of Finland, which I’ve had the chance to visit a number of times for work and really, really adore. If you ever have a chance to visit Helsinki, Porvoo, Turku, or any of the other great cities and towns in Finland, definitely do! Summer in Helsinki is pure bliss.
My very first piece of iittala was a gift some years ago from Manny’s grandmother: an Aalto vase in clear. This is such a simple but wonderful object. I was floored by the genius of it and became instantly hooked on this company. The vase itself is sculptural and makes a statement without being fussy or kitschy or too design-y. We use ours to hold wine corks (which we generally save after a special dinner or celebration) or flowers from the garden.
We went with the whole Teema suite: dinner plates, salad plates, pasta bowls, and breakfast bowls. We also got a full set of Teema white serving ware. I love their Essence line wine glasses, but we didn’t end up going that route when it came to stocking our bar. We did, however, get the iittala Kartio large and medium drinking tumblers in clear glass, as well as the matching carafe. I especially love the medium tumblers. We use them as everyday wine glasses and there’s something about their heft and size that makes them the perfect piece for that task.
(iittala Taika. Source)
Even though we went with Teema dinnerware for the classic versatility of the design, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention another iittala classic dinnerware line and one with a bit more personality: Taika.
Taika means ‘magic’ in Finnish and the collection’s designs draw heavily from Nordic folklore. Designed by Klaus Haapaniemi, each piece features animals set in a carefully abstracted fairytale landscape.
This isn’t all iittala has to offer; Sarjaton is another perennial favorite when it comes to dinnerware and people often mix and match between the sets. I’m too OCD for that, though, and also I like the simplicity of the white Teema on its own. I could see myself picking up some Kastehemli Dewdrop glass pieces in the future, though, in clear or light blue.
(Nappula candleholders. Source)
I also have my sights set on the Nappula candleholders in white. I have promised myself that when we finish our kitchen I’ll invest in a pair to start a collection and christen the new space.
A final note about our iittala dinnerware. It isn’t fancy. Not really. Because of the quality, though, these pieces can be dressed up with a pretty table setting. It’s perfect for casual dinner for two or a nice dinner you’re serving to family and friends.