How Dinnerware Sets Became Instagram’s Latest “It” Accessory

published Jun 14, 2019
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Credit: Julia Steele

If you didn’t ‘gram it, did it even happen?

In an age where lives are comprised of tweets, selfies, and shares, we’re all guilty of doing some things just for Instagram. We’ll spend top dollar to stay at that ultra-curated hotel, plan a night out around that one restaurant that’s flooding your feed, and wait in line for hours to snap flower-shaped ice cream or rainbow bagels. But buying plates, mugs, and bowls for Instagram? That’s a new one.

Recently, kitchen-focused companies like Great Jones have been serving up lines that make kitchens look ready for the grid. As random as it may seem, it makes sense. Since so-called foodstagrams aren’t going out of trend anytime soon, why not invest in some striking dinnerware? And if you can get the shot sans glare, all the better.

When Kathryn Duryea founded her dinnerware brand Year & Day, she sought to create a color palette inspired by the California coast—and one that could be seamlessly mix and matched.

“I love the combination of moon and fog ceramics with matte black flatware or daybreak and midnight ceramics with matte gold flatware,” she says. “Often, those who opt for a single color of ceramics will mix in different colors with serving pieces or our versatile dip dishes, which are sold as a multi-color set with one of each of our four signature glazes.”

And while deciding on a semi-matte finish wasn’t solely fueled by social media, its Insta-friendly capabilities turned out to be a convenient perk.

“Our soothing semi-matte finish was designed as a deliberate counterpoint to all the screen time we have today,” she says.“It also has less glare than traditional shiny plates, which makes it easy to photograph beautifully.”

She adds that since launching the company on social media about one year ago, Year & Day has experienced a 300 percent net revenue growth in 2019 overall, with many pieces selling out.

“We had an overwhelming response on Instagram from when we first launched on the platform a year ago,” she explains, noting many of her first customers found the company on social media. “Since then, it’s been exciting to see our community grow and share photos of their kitchen shelves and tablescapes at home or our mugs when they are spending time at The Wing.”

While some brands might’ve created wares specifically to be Insta-friendly, others have found social media fame more organically.

When East Fork set out to create the ultimate mug year ago, they didn’t expect it would become one of the hottest social media moments. They just wanted to create something their customers loved as much as they did.

“We took every element into consideration—the durability, how it rests in your hands, the aesthetic effect of its proportions,” explains Connie Matisse, the brand’s co-founder and chief marketing officer. “We put them in thousands of hands, drank thousands of cups of coffee, got feedback, made changes, got more feedback, made more changes.”

Several iterations later, they finally landed on their current mug, a chip-resistant option with a large vessel and handle design for an easy, comfortable hold. Available in six glazes, the mug generated a following of epic proportions. Not only did it sell out multiple times—sometimes in mere seconds—but it also amassed its very own hashtag on Instagram (#TheMug), where customers often snap selfies with their mug of Joe.

While the Mug certainly speaks for itself, Matisse adds the company’s cheerful social media presence helps foster a positive, fun rapport with East Fork’s flock of fans.

“The raw, real, goofy way we engage with our community on social media stands out, despite the noise,” she says. “Our Instagram community is really engaged, so when we ask people to help us get the word out, they’ve been happy to oblige!”

Hashtags and a cult-like following are great perks, but East Fork is still committed to putting its customers first, not the ‘gram.

“How we sell is kinda sorta in active conversation with the ever-changing retail landscape, but we try our best to tease out the constants and speak to the core of people, instead of to their passing interests du jour,” Matisse says.

In our Instagram-first age, aesthetics are queen. But to have a piece you’ll use (and love!) long after your Insta-story expires? That may be the key to Instagram immortality.