The Dinnerware Museum: Whetting your Appetite
Author: Source: Date: 2016-08-11 18:46:27
To some people, the term dinnerware conjures up images of grandma’s old dishes with metal knife marks on the dinner plates. This special exhibition at SOFA CHICAGO 2013, The Dinnerware Museum: Whetting your Appetite, reveals a refreshing approach – featuring masterpieces of the tabletop genre created by contemporary artists, as well as notable historic dinnerware by the leading designers for industry, juxtaposed with an uncommon focus on fine art that references dining and a bit of kitsch thrown in for good measure.
The celebration begins with wire scribble sculpture by Portuguese artist David Oliveira; a complete 6-piece Roy Lichtenstein Pop-art dinnerware set including a cup, saucer and 4 plates; a Knife Fork Spoon ceramic sculpture set by the late William Parry; Paul Kotula’s sublime Setting for One; Kate Maury’s monumental Epergne, 2012; Lisbon-born artist Joana Carvalho’s prototype plastic Kit Café; Léopold Foulem’s Blue Willow Teapot in Mounts; an engraved Pyrex teapot designed by Frederick Carder from the 1920s; a 1955 dinnerware set designed by Viktor Schreckengost with surprising tripod feet; a 1940s children’s plastic dining set, where the train conductor and engineer are literally a spoon and fork for feeding the infant; a historic china plate with hand-stitched textile “repairs” created by U.K. artist Michelle Taylor; and more than a few other surprises. Here’s the only museum in the world devoted exclusively to dinnerware, making new memories for every visitor. The Ann Arbor-based Dinnerware Museum brings enough dinnerware to Chicago to whet your appetite.
Established in 2012 in Ann Arbor, Michigan, The Dinnerware Museum has an international focus collecting industrially designed and manufactured as well as one-of-a-kind dinnerware and accessories created from ceramic, glass, wood, metal, lacquer, paper, and plastic and celebrates a significant aspect of our daily lives from ancient times to the present. The Museum additionally acquires non-functional sculptural work referencing dinnerware. Furthermore, the Museum collects related archival materials from individual artists, designers, and companies, including photographs, advertisements, personal and company records, equipment, and research materials.
While there are more than a thousand pieces in the permanent collection of the Dinnerware Museum, with ceramics being the primary medium, there are important art works in metal, glass, plastic, paper, wood, fiber, and more in the collection. The collection is international in scope, with work from the U.S., China, Japan, England, France, Germany, Czechoslovakia, Taiwan, Portugal, Canada, and elsewhere. Even this small exhibition, about eleven pieces or dinnerware sets, selected for SOFA CHICAGO 2013, has work from the U.S., Canada, England, and Portugal. Some work epitomizes “good design” in mid-century dinnerware, while other work represents the best in contemporary dinnerware. There is at least one example of the best in prototype design created in plastic by rapid prototyping; one rare engraved glass teapot from the 1920s that will make you nostalgic for bygone eras; one celadon-glazed centerpiece that will make you yearn for formal contemporary dining opportunities; some Pop-art creations that will make you wish you were alive (and wealthy) in the 1960s; a contemporary dinnerware set for one that will make you wish you were lucky enough to be dining alone; some fine art referencing dinnerware such as Bill Parry’s Knife Fork Spoon sculpture that will bring out your abstract sensibilities; 3-D wire scribble sculpture from Portugal that will add a new dimension to your definition of what dinnerware is or isn’t; as well as a teapot form that will question the old maxim, form follows function; a “found” china plate with repairs by the artist Michelle Taylor unlike any you’ve seen before; and the kitsch included in this special exhibition is not gratuitous. Kitsch plays a pivotal role in this eclectic collection. Dinnerware can be beautiful, educational, and frequently fun or playful.
Good design is a key component of the masterpieces in the permanent collection of the Dinnerware Museum. Corning first began manufacturing Pyrex teapots in 1922. In the early 1920s, the Corning Glass Works’ leading designer was the British-born Frederick Carder (1863-1963). Among his many creations were a category of glass Pyrex ware that was advertised in The Saturday Evening Post in 1923 as “the 365-Day Gift” – a “delight forever,” “the universal gift.” It was much more than that when one was able to acquire the attractive squat Pyrex teapot that Carder designed with its rare engraved decorations and even an occasional precious monogram.