Set the Mood When You Set the Table With These Clever Accessories

Times Staff Writer

The style of dinnerware and table-top accessories can evoke a mood for any dining or entertaining experience. And in recent years, we’ve seen fine china that’s definitely far from boring and ordinary. Instead, these exciting new table pieces are making a fashion statement, complementing not only interior design schemes in the home but the predominate colors of the season.

In creating these novel patterns, the name of the game is mixing and matching. Former top furniture designer and cook book art director Bill Goldsmith owes a great part of the success of his porcelain china pattern to this mix and match concept. Site de Corot pattern designs (from $170 for a five-piece place setting) are very versatile, reminiscent of the layering technique in clothing. Goldsmith, who also is the first American design director of a French Limoges factory, calls it “modern traditional.”

‘I Design for the Present’

“I have eclectic taste. I design for the present--not classic, not avant-garde--and I don’t believe in trends,” said the Texas-born artist, who was dressed in casual jeans and a sweater during the unveiling of his latest china pattern at the recent L.A. Gift Show.


“My patterns range from the very stark in graphics to the very traditional and melt in the middle when mixed and matched. I want people to mix (my china) with whatever they own; they can mix it with antique or with modern furnishings.”

He also would like people to discover that it’s more appealing to use different pieces at each course during dinner. By orchestrating the movement, each setting creates a change of scene and adds variety.

Old-Fashioned to Contemporary

The Site de Corot collection sets range from old-fashioned, large floral patterns with magnificent detailing and coloring (called Victoria, Narcissus, Alice and Potpourri) to fruit designs (the Berries, Compote, Citron, Poire, Fraise) to the simple band-edged (Faux Bois) that blends well with the more intricate fruit or floral plate. Echoing contemporary tones are the boldly tinted, zig-zagged rimmed pattern called Florida.


In the few years since Site de Corot has been introduced, it has already developed a tremendous following, including both home and institutional buyers. Pieces have been used by food and bridal magazines; you may have spotted them in a mashed potato commercial print ad or in the movie “Wall Street.” Goldsmith expects to have similar success with his newest pattern, Tulipa, an open tulip design that consists of stems, leaves and tulip blooms that are gracefully drawn on the white plate, cup or teapot. Like the other motifs, each size of the varied-colored china features a different pattern.

An Exotic Ensemble

Another porcelain fine china pattern that’s getting a lot of attention is Legno from Taitu ($102 for a five-piece place setting). Created by Italian designer Emilio Bergamin, this exotic dinnerware ensemble explores the feelings of wood, its lines and earthy hues. Legno, which means wood in Italian, combines the warm tones of blonde wood, black and beige in a geometric play of parquetry and inlay. The largest plate has a large open tulip, reflecting a textural fabric print.

In contrast to the casual rhythm of Goldsmith’s design, Bergamin extends in Legno the symmetry and balance typical of his past creations. What’s unusual is that sales of his earth-tone color deviations have, surprisingly, taken off in a time when jewel tones seem to be the word.

Combine the rustic look of stoneware and the sophisticated glazed porcelain and you have Terrafirma. Catering to followers of early 20th-Century craftsmanship, Terrafirma Ceramics is one of the few remaining American pottery studios producing totally handmade ceramics in that time-honored tradition. Designed by Ellen Evans (who founded the firm in New York in 1974), Terrafirma products are made of high-fired stoneware, most with overlays of porcelains and some of woven stoneware.

Array of Accessories

Gracefully styled with terra-cotta leaves, ribbons, shells, grapes and asparagus, the pieces have glazed inner surfaces in beautiful colors of turquoise, forest, cobalt, celadon, pink, bisque, ivory, black, slate, opal and raspberry. Some are available in moire or marbleized patterns that come in malachite, sandstone or ivory, cobalt and smoke (slate).

Oven-proof, dishwasher-safe and microwave-safe, the Terrafirma collection consists of an array of serving ware and accessories: rectangular and square hors d’oeuvre, pastry and vegetable trays, round cake plates, oval platters, leaf platters, soup and salad bowls, shell-shaped bowls, pitchers, vases, cachepots and coolers, candlesticks. Recently introduced are the refreshingly crafted Calla Lilly and Water Lilly designs.


The Bill Goldsmith Design Site de Corot China collection is available at Lynne Deutch, Geary’s, the Cabbage Rose Patch and Fred Segal’s Zero Minus Plus.

The Legno pattern from Taitu is available at Geary’s, Lynne Deutch, By Design, Linens Et Al and Tesoro Collection.

The Terrafirma collection is available at Nordstrom.