Gorgeous, everyday blue and white dinnerware from around the Pacific Rim is inexpensive and plentiful. Here’s where to find it right now.
CHEAP & PERFECT | Sam Carter introduced me to the joy of collecting inexpensive Asian blue and white dishes. Carter, who is now professor emeritus at Emily Carr University of Art and Design in Vancouver and currently working on a variety of innovative international projects—including facilitating internships for Emily Carr students in China, Malaysia, Vietnam, Philippines, Japan and Korea—has, for the longest time, picked up antique and contemporary blue and white dishes wherever he touches down.
Whenever I have supped chez Carter the table has been set with a multicultural mix of exquisite blue and white dishes from Europe or Asia. With his gimlet eye (and deep connections in arts communities worldwide), Carter has managed to snag beautiful blue and white dinnerware and serving pieces that look like they belong on display in a museum not pressed into service for meals, which is what he does with his cache, of course.
Inspired by Carter’s collection, my eclectic mix of blue and white dishes (see photo above) is infinitely more mundane than his is, dramatically less expensive, but just as enthusiastically collected. Most of my pieces are everyday dishes unearthed locally in little shops, though I do hunt for inexpensive blue and white when I travel.
Variety Is The Spice
Two blue and white tricks I’ve learned from Carter are to mix patterns together when setting the table and to buy place settings in bulk. “I buy every dish type in sets of 10 or more,” he once told me, “so I can serve each course on a different pattern.” — C. Rule
1. Ming Wo has Chinese dinnerware in both the classic Rice (pictured above) and Blue Carp patterns; visit mingwo.com for store locations.
2. Bamboo Village Oriental Folk Art & Craft has lots of Chinese dinnerware including large, ceramic, botanical-pattern serving bowls and platters; in Vancouver at 35 Pender Street E, 604-662-3300.
3. Utsuwa-No-Yakata has a wide selection of everyday Japanese dinnerware; in Richmond at 4151 Hazelbridge Way, 604- 207-9353.
4. Red Horses Gallery has a small but well considered collection of Japanese dishes; in West Vancouver at 2460 Marine Drive, 604- 922-3933.
5. WA Lifestyle Store Murata has interesting Japanese tableware; in Vancouver at 15 Broadway Street E, 604-874-1777; visit online at murata.ca
Photo: Clinton Hussey