This month a dream of mine has come true. I've returned to my first love: actually designing something. After many years of visiting other people's homes, and reviewing resources and products, I've teamed up with someone I trust immensely, Andrew Corrie of Canvas Home, to design a line of objects that I will have in my own home. In fact, I was able to end years of frustration in designing something I've never been able to find: a classic, simple set of dishware, table linens and glasses that are useful enough to use everyday and stylish enough to be dressed up for the fanciest dinner.
Introducing Tableware by myself, Maxwell Ryan, and Canvas Home.
What was the inspiration?
The set of glasses came first. Fifteen years ago I found a set of French glasses that came in three sizes, all of which sat on three levels of a wooden shelf that hung on the wall. Those three sizes were meant to solve every drinking occasion you might have. They were practical, dispensed with clutter and were perfectly considered. I bought the set.
They are memorialized forever in the picture above. Over time, however, they broke and were impossible to replace perfectly.
I've always been a big fan of living with a set of three size glasses, no more, and using them every day. I've had to piece those styles together for years, working with a tall and a small straight sided glass, with — typically — a stemless, slightly curved Reidel O glass in between.
One evening, Andrew Corrie and his wife came for dinner (I'd been big fans of their stores, Ochre and Canvas Home, for years) and we got to talking about the perfect glass and how I, as The Apartment Therapist, have a strong opinion about what works and what doesn't. We examined my current collection. Andrew was interested. He asked me if I wanted to try my hand at making my own that would fit together in a trio just like my original inspiration. I couldn't believe he was serious and quickly said yes.
The Full Tableware Line & English Creamware
With Andrew on board, we met over the next six months after work and talked designs until he'd made me expand my ideas into a full tableware line. He gave me a crash course in glassware and ceramic manufacture, the possibilities and limitations of working with different materials and shapes, and made me cough up all my inspiration and opinions about what I liked and disliked.
With further inspiration from durable restaurant supply design, the modern work of Terence Conran and Jasper Morrison as well as my love of English Creamware (popular English 18th century warm white glaze process, the plainest of which was used by servants "below the stairs" everyday) the seven piece tableware line was born.
I pushed and pulled the design to adapt classic, traditional shapes into a contemporary form, while Andrew pushed and pulled with his manufacturers to meet our needs. The color had to be an exact warm bone white (we also eventually did a glossy grey), and the weight and size had to be perfectly balanced so that it would fit in any reader's kitchen cabinet and not weigh too much when carrying six plates to the table.
By this past summer we had it.
I've always believed in a signature mark with products; something that stands quietly out and signals the name of the designer and the personality behind it. The Levis "red tab", Adidas' three stripes and Prada's red label are great examples of this. So I spent a lot of time experimenting with shapes, placements and colors to give this collection its own signature Maxwell Mark.
It is very challenging to add a mark to plates and bowls without becoming decorative (which I absolutely didn't want) or clashing with the food (which is the main event), and I believe we succeeded with the warm grey mark that sits on the outside rim over each piece.
The mark can add to the formality of your setting when lined up, or casually fall wherever it likes. Either way it's your assurance that this is no ordinary set of white and grey plates. While purposely unadorned to fit into any home, the mark signals that this can only be the unique set of tableware I've been working on with Andrew this past year and I stand behind it. It will continue on every new edition with Canvas Home as well as any collaboration in the future.
Cook, Serve & Enjoy!
No home is truly alive, as pretty as it may be, without a warm kitchen and meals served often to friends and family. As Terence Conran once wrote,
Having a warm home that looks good and works well, and that you and your family and friends enjoy must be one of the most worthwhile things in life...
So I invite you to celebrate your home this new year with a new set of our tableware. Try the whole thing, or simply try the glasses set (or the linens) and transform your table from cereal in the morning to a full dinner at night.
Cheers, and let me know what you do with it!
New York City