Tableware Trends in Brazil
by Diga Maria
Owning a porcelain set for 12 people was a status symbol not long ago. It was common to inherit from our grandmothers and mothers classic dishes, including the completely white, with all the same pieces. In the restaurants it was no different; crockery of the same manufacturer, of the same line, of the same color.
The restaurants that deviated from this pattern were distinguished by the use of decorated porcelain and renowned factories. I remember when a person told me about the food quality of Inhotim restaurant - one of the main collections of contemporary art in Brazil and the largest outdoor art center in Latin America - emphasizing the use of Vista Alegre crockery.
The alternatives to the traditional round format came through oval, rectangular and square plates, which attributed modernity to the table. The mix of different pieces also contributed to the break of the monotony. In the same meal, the table housed porcelains of different shapes and colors, striped, floral, composing with dishes of different games or pieces garimpadas in antiques. The cups and cutlery followed along the same path, as did the serving pieces, and napkins. But still, we were restricted to the use of industrialized porcelain.
The current trend, the use of handmade ceramics, represents a break in this model and integrates a larger movement: the search for the origins of what we consume. At the tables of elite restaurants, handcrafted utilities receive and display food that also has traces. Through high gastronomy, Brazil lives a return to its origins, where the industrialized loses space for the handmade. To know where the carrot was planted, to know more about the species and the habitat of the bee that produced the honey, being able to say the name of the baker who baked the bread, or talking about the artist who modeled the pottery, became very important among the great chefs and in the restaurants that they command. And just as some chefs go to the field to develop along with the farmer the cultivation of a particular vegetable, they also attend ceramics studios to obtain pieces produced exclusively for their menu proposals. The composition of what will be served now also goes through the design of the dishes that function as a support and frame for the food. Thus, in addition to considering the functionality, at the time of the creation of the pottery it is also observed other points such as the identity of the restaurant, its structure, the color and texture of what will be served, and even the lighting of the hall.
This market has been growing in recent years and has already expanded outside the Rio de Janeiro-São Paulo axis, cities in which this trend has blossomed from restaurants like D.O.M., Maní, Tuju and Lasai. The great movement around the gastronomy associated with this rescue of the manufacture caused some atlies to specialize in the making of utilities for restaurants, dedicating itself 100% to the gastronomy. This exposure and demand has attracted new potters to the market and moves the ceramics studios as a whole. An example is the group of studies for potters "Laboratory of ceramics + food", promoted by Atelier Muriqui. The meetings are for people who already have basic knowledge about the production of ceramics and aims to work tableware, such as dishes and bowls, that will serve for a lunch shared among the group. The union of these two doings has a lot of power and gives us a greater connection to our ancestral culture. Let's hope this trend has come to stay.