This ain't your mother's china pattern: Where can we find offbeat china?

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I got married about a month ago and ever since, my mom has been insistent on buying us china. But my husband and I can't agree on what type. I want something nice and elegant while my husband (who is a chef) wants something modern and not traditionally shaped (so anything but circles).

I really don't mind so long as we find something nice, but all the modern plates I find are a bit boring. Do you know of some companies that have offbeat china sets? -Stevie

Stevie! I'm so glad you asked this question, as I JUST had an epiphany about how amazing china is after breaking yet ANOTHER one of my (cheaper) ceramic dinner plates while washing it. (Yup, I work out.) That's when I sat down at my computer and ordered more of my nice wedding china plates — those babies are TOUGH, sexy, and, as far as I'm concerned, worth every penny. I decided to never mess with anything but.

Yes, I, Offbeat Bride's Megan Finley, did something as traditional as register for china. But I went for a simple and modern pattern that matches all my funky home decor! So you've come to the right person to help you out.

One (yes, one) of my china patterns was New Wave Acapulco from Villeroy & Boch. I say "one of my china patterns" because, unlike your hubs, I'm not-so-much into the square dinner plates. But I AM a fan of their squared-off bowls, serving platters, and that rocking casserole dish.

But if this pattern is too loud, New Wave also comes in white AND with a fancy platinum accent.

I accented that New Wave Acapulco with Villeroy & Boch's Dune Lines Collection. Aside from the fact that it has a beach-y look (and name) I love that each plate has different striations, so it's simple without being a snooze-fest. AND it's a pretty great compromise for those who want round and not-round dishes.

But you're hubs wants "anything but circles" so how about Villeroy & Boch's Urban Nature collection. Check out that top plate aka the "fruit bridge"!

Charter Club's, Platinum Silhouette Square Collection is accented with the coolest silver wildflowers! That's what I'm talkin' about — floral patterned china that doesn't make me wanna barf.

Mikasa's Autumn Frost set is an eclectic blend of softly squared and round shapes, with a fun blue nature-inspired pattern.

The Mikasa Cameo Platinum Square Collection is basic yet outstanding with its platinum border.

Now I'm throwing out a round-y for the anti-square crowd. I have been a fan of Lennox's Chirp Collection for a while now. No worries, it also comes in a square pattern. Plus, there's a red option. Ooh ahh.

Oh holy crap, I just discovered Villeroy & Boch's Flow collection, and now I'm sad that I didn't register for THESE dishes. Every single item in this collection blows my mind, from the plates with the cool peek, these insane salad bowls with handles, and this plate on plate action. BLARG, I love this!

Of course, you can always take your time and mix and match china patterns over time. Or register for different patterns at the same time and mix and match THAT way.

Now it's your turn. Homies, what are YOUR go-tos for funky china and tableware?

  1. I LOVE those plates with the bird & branches pattern!! <3 <3 – We got a very simple white & red set, from Cornelle, for our wedding.

    11 agree
  2. I have Fishs Eddy's Alice in Wonderland dinnerware – and I hope they never discontinue it! They have all kinds of funky colors and patterns, but Alice is perfect for me.

    12 agree
  3. I registered for the Lennox's Chirp set. I love ever piece of that set. It's so fun and happy. It's silly and fun enough for us, but formal enough to serve at "fancy dinners"

    12 agree
  4. So much pretty! I love how fresh and fun these types of designs feel.

    I love square plates, but square bowls not so much. I was eating from them last night, and you just can't scrape the bowl clean as easily when it has corners – which, when eating delicious bolognaise and ice cream (not together!) is a serious problem. Leave no noms behind!

    12 agree
    • Yes! That's SUCH a pain in the ass. Fortunately the New Wave bowls have square edges, but the bowl part is actually round. Because that shit's frustrating.

      13 agree
      • Ooh, that is awesome! All the cute factor of square bowls with the practicality of round.

        11 agree
    • They also do not fit well in a dishwasher, which was not something I thought of before registering for them…

      11 agree
  5. We registered for Notitake's Colorwave with the flower blossom accent plates. But we Did 4 pink, 4 green, and 4 black. I still love them and they come in lots more colors. I want the blue ones too.

    11 agree
  6. We got some boring black dishes once upon a time, but are slowly replacing them as they break and chip with Fiesta dishes in amazaballs colors. It's like a party in our pantry now every time I get a plate. And they come in all different colors and shapes and sizes.

    14 agree
    • I was just coming here to recommend Fiesta! Our family we all register for Fiesta and the couple picks out colors. Its cool how different the color selections make the dish sets seem. My Aunts all have variations of pastels. My mom has browns and oranges. My one cousin went Lavender Black and Green and the other went yellow green and red. Now the Boy and I have to figure out what colors we want…

      Plus they are made in the USA (and are a more eco friendly employer in my coal driven state West Virginia)

      Here's the link for anyone that's interested: http://www.hlchina.com/fiestaretail.htm

      18 agree
      • We registered for Fiesta too because it's made in the US and great quality. I love that you can mix and match the colors! Plus they're oven safe, which a lot of the newer stuff is not. Also allow me to plug American Kitchen for a great US made cookware that's similar to All Clad, cheaper, and (in my limited experience using my new loot) works great. My relatives all loved being able to buy us US made stuff.

        10 agree
      • I meant to mention that another concern with Fiestaware is that some of the vintage pieces red and orange) made before 1944 contain uranium oxide in the glaze (as did most red glazes from that period)….ie, they're radioactive. I imagine you'd probably have to do something drastic like microwave and store food on the red/orange plates and eat three meals a day off of them for ten years before there was any sign of ill-effects. Still, something to be aware of. The new Fiestaware is fine.

        7 agree
    • I love Fiesta dishes as well, though the actual vintage ones are expensive! I want to get just one or two pieces (like the teal butter dish I saw at an antique store for $45).

      7 agree
      • They haven't changes the styling of them much at all over the years, so you can mix the more affordable new pieces with any awesome vintage finds really easily. My grandmother has blue and yellow plates from the 40's that look awesome with the limited edition West Virginia University pieces they came out with a few years ago.

        If you are anywhere near WV try getting to their factory tent sale (June and October of each year). People find really awesome deals on limited edition and vintage pieces.

        9 agree
        • I lovelovelove Fiestaware. One of my fist few retail jobs had me in the home section of a Big Box Department Store and I vowed then and there to eventually get some, which I did. Although it comes in about 100 colors (may not be actual number), I only wanted a few of them so there would be a sort-of theme, These things are hearty too! I am klutzy as they come and have yet to see so much as a chip, let alone a broken dish.

          Also, I second the difficulty in cleaning square dishes. I have squared-off glasses (something from Target) and they collect grubby bits in the corner… Ick.

          6 agree
  7. Also diclblick.com makes ceramic food safe glaze Markers that are low fire. Get plain plates, draw on them, fire them in ur oven .

    5 agree
  8. I was having china angst as I got engaged, because I knew the inevitable wedding registry would approach and I'd have to decide which set would dominate my married life for years to come. But, what if I chose a set that got discontinued in five years, and I'd never be able to find replacement pieces? What if, like my parents, I chose a set that could only be found at a certain outlet store in Vermont, and I'd have to drive there every five years or so to stock up on overpriced specialty plates?
    Then, I had a Goodwill epiphany when I was still living alone in my apartment. I had been slowly replacing some flimsy all-black dishes with green-striped stoneware dishes I'd been finding at Goodwill. One day, I bought a stack of 6 dessert plates that were very heavy feeling. I happened to notice that they manufacturers' mark on each plate was different: identical plates, different companies. I Googled the companies (because I Google everything) and found out that these plates were "restaurant ware". They were from the 40's and 50's, primarily used in diners.
    I became intrigued, and began collecting this vintage restaurant-ware. The green-stripe pattern I'd started with turned out to be one of the most common patterns, so finding dishes in antique stores, yard sales, and Goodwill turned out to be fairly easy. Now, I've got tons of plates (in four sizes that I call dinner, sandwich, salad, and dessert), as well as oval plates (lunch plates?), several teacups with saucers, and a variety of small bowls. I even have a few "butter pats" which were tiny plates that they'd serve you your butter on before butter packets became popular. The only part I'm stuck on is soup bowls. I've got three different shapes, only one of which I've been able to find more than one of (I've got four). Basically, I've accumulated a dish "set" that is unique, fun (I love all of the tiny plates and bowls I've found for individual servings of sides), very rugged, and easily to find replacements for. One bonus feature is that back in those days, dinner plates were much smaller (about 9" across) as opposed to today's average of 12"…..smaller plates means we'll eat less while still feeling full. Voila!

    4 agree
  9. I second the vintage route! I registered for more of the vintage pattern dishes I already have, called temporama. They ended up being surprisingly easy to find on ebay, etsy and even goodwill stores. Most vintage patterns tend to be traditionally shaped though.

    2 agree
  10. Corelle has square plates in a bunch of different designs:

    http://www.corelle.com/square

    We have the corelle hearthstone in chilli red, but alas they don't seem to make it anymore. I have a couple of boxes down in the basement that I got cheap, for when the stuff inevitably breaks. It was Mr. Ivriniel's dish set before we got married, and it's quite striking stuff.

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/4-piece-CORELLE-Hearthstone-Square-CHILI-RED-Place-Setting-Dinner-Lunch-Bowl-Mug-/360449824121?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item53ec7bd579#ht_3225wt_1156

    3 agree
  11. We are dying for the Chirp pattern, but it is just too expensive. We're talking a grand just for a standard set of plates, salad plates, cups, bowls, and one or two serving pieces! Way to rich for my blood. We agreed that if we still love love love it in five years, we'll spring for it then. In the meantime, we're getting these gorgeous hand painted ones: http://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/product.asp?SKU=40445595&RN=555&amp; It's not fine china, but it has personality without costing an arm and a leg.

    4 agree
  12. I LOOOVE New Wave Acapulco!! Oh my gosh, I wish I could go back and time and register for that..

    Anyway, we had a smaller wedding, and I was concerned that registering for china would leave us with a lot of extra pieces to buy. Besides, I am a very clumsy person, and was concerned about breaking expensive plates. In addition, my mom has portions of her (first) wedding china, and her grandma's wedding china, which I know will make it to me eventually. We also don't host holidays, but instead mostly bring a dish or two to family holidays.

    So we decided to ask for some very nice serving dishes. I have a friend who owns an independent kitchen store, and received a lot of beautiful Polish pottery pieces from his shop (so pretty and unique! https://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=polish+pottery).

    When we have people come over, I go to Target and get a set of nice looking dishes for under $50 that compliment the stuff we already have. It's working well so far!

    2 agree
  13. I love Lennox Chirp pattern! We registered for those, but only got two settings. It will take a few years to fill the rest!! I also love all the anthropologie china, but they tend to go in and out of fashion and don't stay on the website long enough to build a collection….But I don't mind mixed-matched.

    3 agree
  14. I didn't get nice china when I got married (both times). What I did do though, was several years back I decided I wanted a set of nice china to break out on holidays and other special occasions. I have fond memories of my mom doing that. She has her grandmothers china and sterling silverware as well. I was sad because all of that is very expensive. Somehow I found the Kate Spade June Lane pattern with the platinum band. I love it because it has dragonflies on it, which I love. I found it quite amazeballs. What I did though, was I just bought it a little bit at a time on ebay. Sometimes I got factory seconds and such, which saved a lot of money. I have a nearly complete set for 12 now (just missing a couple cups and saucers and various bowls if I decide to get them). It's pretty awesome. Also, Replacements.com is an excellent resource to check out if you are missing pieces. I've gotten some from there too. It can be spendy, so you do have to keep an eye on it and snap up the factory seconds and things with blemishes, cause really, who notices those on dishes?

    3 agree
    • I didn't get nice china when I got married (either time) either.

      I'm due to inherit my Mom's good china (my older sister got my Grandmother's) which I love, so I didn't see the point.

      It's Royal Albert Forget Me Nots, and it warms the cockles of my steampunk heart. :)

      3 agree
    • Lots of cool stuff! My aunt has their "Circus Red" salad serving set! It's incredibly awesome in person and I've always loved it. :P

      1 agrees
  15. Polish Pottery is the ish. Durable enough for everyday use (oven, microwave and dishwasher safe) and it comes in a million beautiful (yet funky yet traditional) patterns. LOVE. The colors remind me a bit of Fiesta ware.

    2 agree
  16. I am a huge fan of the china on http://www.AllModern.com. My husband and I registered for the Kahla Elixyr set and we get so many compliments on it! http://www.allmodern.com/KAHLA-Elixyr-White-Dinnerware-Collection-KLA2035.html

    if you want a pop of color check this out: http://www.allmodern.com/KAHLA-Five-Senses-Touch%21-Red-Dinnerware-Collection-KLA2041.html

    or this: http://www.allmodern.com/Arzberg-Tric-Dinnerware-Collection-in-Hot-Red-ZRB1448.html
    that one also comes in light blue and orange. and no i don't work for AllModern.com–i just found their site to be a lifesaver when my husband and i were looking for our registry and had such a hard time finding good quality pieces that reflected our tastes. macy's just wasn't cutting it.

    I had always liked Fiestaware until I realized that the reason restaurants always use white plates is because food looks SOOOOO much better on white dinnerware.

    2 agree
  17. As much as I love the New Wave stuff from Villeroy & Boch, there is a major problem with the mugs! :) Because of the twist in the handle, you can't hold a "right-handed" mug in your left hand (as I discovered in an outlet shop). You can get left-handed mugs in the same range but you just know that you'll always end up with the "wrong" mug if a) you are a lefty or b) you know any lefties.

    My china is distinctly plain and boring, it's the plain, white Fargrik from Ikea

    3 agree
  18. I picked up my set (+/- 27 pieces, only a couple chipped/broken) for $15 at a yard sale. It's wicked traditional, but it makes a really nice presentation when I use them. I use stoneware for day to day because I just can't quit using the dishwasher.

    My ideal dish setup would be very basic white dishes with ACCESSORIES. Chargers and napkins and placemats and whatnots. And I'd love to have two sets of complementary size, so I could just shuffle them together. Pretty salad plate on the white plate on the coordinating charger. HOW LOVELY.

    3 agree
    • YES

      I got a crazy heavy/traditional blue pattern after we got married (cheap – under 1€ a piece) because it was a giant set and I thought it would be fun to have matching everything (I mean EVERYTHING including a vase!), but I miss being able to use any colors I want based on some fun napkins and tablecloths and stuff.

      White may seem boring, but you can dress it up or down make it fun or serious, or even seasonal. Just a reminder! ;-)

      2 agree
  19. Our fine china is offbeat and totally unique – we took our wedding party and their spouses to a paint-your-own-pottery place between rehearsal and dinner. We paid for a four-piece set of dishes (dinner plates, salad plates, bowls, and mugs) and they painted our fine china. Most of it is as mis-matched and eclectic as you can imagine, but I SO love that it's made by our friends. I love eating fancy dinner off of the Mario plate, or the one featuring a teacup dinosaur (think teacup poodle, but dinosaur, and actually in a teacup). It was maybe the best thing ever – so even if you're not artsy – consider painting your own with a group.

    3 agree
    • "think teacup poodle, but dinosaur, and actually in a teacup" I love this sentence

      2 agree
  20. I have the Chirp pattern as placemats! So much love. They go well with the everyday plates my sister passed on to me after getting Polish pottery for her wedding. And my mom gave me my grandmother's nice china. Haven't used it yet, but one day I shall host an elegant party. Or something.

    1 agrees
  21. Ee are saving up to buy Herend porcelain. My grandma had some growing up, and I loved it. It is expensive, but it's not traditional from a US perspective. Some of the patterns have a new kitsch feel. You can see them at http://www.herendusa.com It is made in Hungary and has been around for over 150 years.

    1 agrees
    • I love Herend! My family is Hungarian and we have a few small pieces from trips there, or from when family members came here to visit.

      0 agree
  22. I found that I didn't like most china patterns, so I went with all-white round dinnerware. I decided I'd prefer spicing things up with place mats, chargers, napkins, serve ware, or by splicing in a random set of funky soup bowls. The fact that its white will also make it easy to expand or replace pieces with patterned pieces or just similar white dinnerware, since I don't have to match any existing pattern.

    0 agree
    • You can also have fun with the "all-white" theme by mixing up shapes. Like you can serve your guests dessert on white plates that are all different shapes and see if anyone notices. I have vintage green-striped restaurant ware for dishes, and I've noticed that the teacups came in several different shapes. Originally I tried to just collect one shape until I realized it would be more fun to serve tea to people in different shaped, matching cups.

      1 agrees
  23. I agonized over finding the right china because I wanted something funky but also classic. Then I found and fell in love with the Rosenthal A La Carte line. Of course the two patterns I loved and the two patterns my husband loved were not the same. But the beauty of the A La Carte is that you can mix the different patterns together. So we have half Scoop (for me) and half Tatami for my hubs. We use these for our every day dishes and they set a beautiful table.

    0 agree
  24. We registered for Denby's Jet in a variety of patterns. We didn't get a ton but I've since picked up some pieces here and there when it goes on sale. The best thing is that it goes together but isn't matchy and as Denby rotates colours and patterns through we can mix and match but still have things feel similar. That way we aren't locked in to a single pattern which we would then have to hunt down when it goes out of production. Plus it's primarily black and grey which makes my dude happy and it is sturdy enough that I'm not breaking or chipping it all the time, unlike my cheap plates and bowls.

    0 agree
  25. I am a Fiesta lady. I have 10 place settings, each in a different color. Party in my cupboard! I also lurve Frankoma, it happens to be an Oklahoma native, just like me. :)

    0 agree
  26. Pffft, I am too clumsy to own china. Corelle all the way! (Which does break, however, if it, say, gets really cold in the fridge and you drop it on the floor. Um, just sayin'.)

    My boyfriend and I have "Simple Lines", which goes with everything and I think they're going to make for like, forever. But a few months ago I saw the "Twilight Grove" pattern and thought it looked pretty nice, and I was bummed for a minute. Then I thought, "Eh, fuck it", and bought two dinner plates that are now the plates I use for putting cookies and cakes on when I bake. Since we have two, (and there's two of us) I could use them for dinner too if I wanted. So I don't have to stress about how maybe one day they'll have something amazeballs and I'll be disappointed in what I have. They're cheap enough I can always just snag a couple of plates.

    0 agree
  27. If you're looking for something colourful and offbeat, Finnish design might be your cup of tea. For instance, china by companies such as Arabia or Iittala is eye-catching and fun. I myself have three Iittala Taika 13.5 oz mugs, Arabia Apila coffee set, and two of the Arabia KoKo Roses mugs (two latter ones apparently are not sold at the Finnish Design web store, boooo.) The products are durable and high quality. They last from mother to daughter.

    Check them out at: http://www.finnishdesignshop.us/tableware-dinnerware-c-26_763.html

    PS. I just love this site! Me and my fiance are planning a very offbeat Christmas-pallooza wedding. Since offbeat weddings are still quite rare in Finland, we've gotten a few raised eyebrows when we've revealed bits of our wedding plans. I'm not worried though, they're going to love the party when they see it. ;)

    0 agree
  28. I'm getting my grandmother's fine china, which I'm super excited about even though it's pink and girly and nothing like me. It's just special, you know?

    So, for our everyday china I went with Fiesta cobalt blue for the standard plates and bowls, and we're mixing it with Ten Thousand Villages blue and white china. They have mugs and serveware that pretty much match the cobalt fiestaware.

    http://www.tenthousandvillages.com/toasty-mornin-mug

    http://www.tenthousandvillages.com/all-occasions-tray

    I love hearing about everyone's choices in china! I feel so southern!

    0 agree
  29. my fiance and i just registered for fiesta ware! i am so excited for all the bright colored dishes and to mix and match with vintage fiestaware pieces.

    0 agree
  30. My fiance and I are registering for the "Eat Your Heart Out" dinnerware by Etsy artisan, Foldedpigs: http://www.etsy.com/shop/foldedpigs. It's not china, but restaurant ware that has been screenprinted and re-fired. I don't think the MIL approves but honestly at this point in our lives we have no place to store china, much less a reason to use it. If we ever end up being that couple who host dinner parties and holidays in their fancy home (which I doubt) we can always buy some then.

    0 agree
  31. The irony of this post is the Acapulco china actually *is* my mother's china. Note: you can order round plates through the V&B website. The original pattern from the 60's was for round plates.

    0 agree
  32. We registered for plates but doubt we'll get them.

    But, when I met the FH, we discovered he had about 8 of the old Johnson Bros Coaching plates hidden up in his cabinet, left over from his grandparents.

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Johnson-Bros-Coaching-Scenes-Dishes-Hunting-Stoke-on-Trent-from-England-Blue-/160842097702?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item2572efa426#ht_669wt_1037

    It was funny cuz MY gm had the entire dish set and left it in a box in the attic for me when 'I got older', but forgot and left them in her attic when she moved.

    If we don't get the dishes we registered for, I'm completing this set off of eBay.

    0 agree
  33. I know a couple who registered for offbeat china in a different way. They went to the regular china place and asked for one place setting from each pattern! The staff were really confused by that, but the ended up with a fabulous collection of eclectic dishes. Very bohemian.

    0 agree
  34. Chirp is what we registered for… I love the colors, it lends itself so well to a colorful kitchen. Be warned, though, the square ones are more expensive than the round!

    0 agree
  35. I had the hardest time finding china to register for! I originally had Target's "Jade Moon", which I bought for myself out of college (post college splurge), but since then so many of my roommates had dropped scratched, threw away (yes, seriously) so many of them, I thought we should pick a different (which kind of breaks my heart- I loved jade moon!).

    I had the HARDEST time finding dinnerware that wasn't, in my opinion, stuffy or boring. I almost got chirp, but in the end I decided it was too plain. I ended up with this:
    http://www.amazon.com/American-Atelier-Sicily-16-Piece-Dinnerware/dp/B007YWYTW2/ref=wr_it_dp_o_nS_nC?ie=UTF8&colid=3OLTU42N0MTI4&coliid=I9K9K07X2NCL
    I found that almost everything that I ended up liking was American Atelier; I even bought matching sugar and flour canisters. I also just loved (and so did my guests- this is what they overwhelmingly bought me) the Simply Designz servingware from BB&B. I asked for pretty much everything in turquoise.
    http://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/1/3/simply-designz-serveware

    0 agree

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