Fancify your food with hand-crafted bowls, plates, trays and other utilitarian works of art.
Sure, you could slap a plastic mixing bowl on your dining table and spear salad out of it with a workaday fork. But where’s the artistry – or fun – in that?
“Servingware is an incredibly important – though perhaps overlooked – part of any kitchen,” says Lisa Olson, owner of Practical Art in Phoenix. “You use it every day, whether you think about it or not. At a communal meal, you pass a bowl around the table and everyone takes from it. On a night in eating takeout, you dish out your food with a large serving spoon… Using artisan-made servingware improves these everyday experiences, adding unique style and quality to each meal.”
Olson and other Valley kitchenware purveyors suggest investing a little more thought into each meal – from solo snacks to dinner parties – and honoring delicious food by serving it in or on beautiful vessels.
“I think it brings you immediately into a very comfortable home environment,” says Nancy Ruben, owner of The Embellished House in Scottsdale. “If you go to the effort of doing this, this is something you’re giving as a gift to your guests. It’s part of who you are.”
Kirk Laibe, owner of The Linen Tree in Scottsdale, agrees. “It makes your life richer and fuller and makes the setting that much more glamorous and that much more beautiful,” he says. “There’s nothing better than having quality pieces that you can cherish and you know will last and that people will remember you for.”
To transition from big-box basics to more artful, hand-crafted pieces, Olson recommends starting small.
“Switch from your everyday coffee mug to a handmade creation and watch how it makes you smile each morning as you fill it up,” Olson says. “Purchase one wooden spoon to see if you like it. Slowly but surely, you will redesign your kitchen and fill your home with functional art that tells a story. Also, don’t worry about finding pieces that all match – part of the fun is finding the unique creations that resonate with you.”
The Linen Tree
6137 N. Scottsdale Rd., Ste. 111, Scottsdale
Owner Kirk Laibe says Match’s hand-crafted Italian pewter coffee set ($160-$550) is “a centerpiece to be enjoyed with a group sitting around, having an after-dinner coffee… and taking the time to relax. When you go to Europe, they entertain. When they serve you tea or coffee, it’s a ritual almost.”
Two Plates Full
10337 N. Scottsdale Rd., Scottsdale
“Buying fun, colorful serveware can bring alive any set of dishes, no matter what the color scheme,” says owner Terri Weisz, who will be moving her shop to a new location this month (new address above). “If you can’t afford a new set of dishes, you can add a colorful salad plate or bowl with your own dinnerware.” Weisz says plates and platters like this “Sisters” one ($135) can be customized with varying sizes, numbers of people and sayings, starting at $18.95. “People tend to think that hand-painted or made by an artist is always expensive, but that is not always true. Artists are trying to create pieces that are affordable to everyone, and we at Two Plates Full try to carry them.”
5070 N. Central Ave., Phoenix
Owner Lisa Olson carries the work of more than 100 Arizona artists, including these canary wood utensils by Dan Basinski (three-spoon set, $75) and ceramic nesting bowls by Aimee Marcinko (set of four, $80).
“Just as a chef utilizes the finest ingredients to produce a meal, these artisans craft their creations using the finest methods and materials… The result is not just a fantastic utensil, but an heirloom, that if cared for can be passed from one generation to the next.”
The Embellished House
15551 N. Greenway Hayden Loop, Ste. 143, Scottsdale
Mixing and layering are owner Nancy Ruben’s mantras when she designs tablescapes. “Just stack, stack, stack,” she says, like she did with these Vagabond Vintage creamware plates (3 for $60), Park Hill vintage ice cream scoop ($30) and Ragon House votive ($11), which she uses as a glass. “You can use these little appetizer plates and platters for small dinners, tapas, brunch, dessert. I just think they’re really sweet.”