Delicious Italian tableware with a rich design pedigree

Richard Ginori’s Oriente Italiano pieces, by Giò Ponti, are modern classics

A table setting that mixes azalea, malachite, iris and citrino shades of Richard Ginori Oriente Italiano dinner plates (€85 each) is a feast for the eyes
A table setting that mixes azalea, malachite, iris and citrino shades of Richard Ginori Oriente Italiano dinner plates (€85 each) is a feast for the eyes

Richard Ginori ceramics have always hovered on my radar, but I’ve become really intrigued by these romantic porcelain pieces ever since I found out that the great designer and architect Giò Ponti was so fundamental to the aesthetic of the historic Florentine company. The late great Ponti is, to my mind, perhaps the most influential Italian architect and product designer of all time, and the more I explore, the more I think he created some of his most remarkable work with Ginori, where he was appointed artistic director in 1923.

The Oriente Italiano azalea-coloured Ming vase (€315) beautifully showcases the airbrush-style garofano flower design by Giò Ponti
The Oriente Italiano azalea-coloured Ming vase (€315) beautifully showcases the airbrush-style garofano flower design by Giò Ponti
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The manufacturer, one of Italy’s most illustrious heritage brands – known for dressing the finest banquets in the country for three centuries – was on the point of disappearing into history when it faced bankruptcy in 2013, taking Ponti’s botanical ceramic designs with it. But Gucci stepped in to save Ginori, and the relevance of its pieces to the modern design enthusiast is coming sharply into focus.

The Oriente Italiano potiche vase, in malachite or iris (€480) has a modern appeal, despite the design dating from 1946
The Oriente Italiano potiche vase, in malachite or iris (€480) has a modern appeal, despite the design dating from 1946
Pieces such as the citrino farmacia vase (€295) are still produced in Florence by the centuries-old brand
Pieces such as the citrino farmacia vase (€295) are still produced in Florence by the centuries-old brand

My personal favourite design is one of Ponti’s greatest graphic works, the floral Oriente Italiano that he launched in 1946, an interpretation of the traditional Florentine garofano (carnation) motif. Applied using an innovative airbrush technique that gives it a definite modern edge, Oriente Italiano looks a bit like a freehand, simplified interpretation of the classic china Willow pattern. But it wasn’t until I saw it in situ in a social context – at a lunch hosted by Aquazzura designer Edgardo Osorio in his Italian palazzo earlier this year – that I became aware of the breadth of colour choice of this design, or how wonderful the different hues look mixed up together. The table was laid with Oriente Italiano plates in a mouthwatering palette of ice-cream colours, with graphic pops of the inky blue or black pattern – and I was so taken with it, I went straight to the Ginori flagship in Florence the following day and bought four versions of the dinner plates (€85 each).

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An extensive array of items is available in the tableware and coffee and tea sets, from a bread plate (€52) to a potiche vase (€480). You can really go to town with the pattern across your whole dining room. When I daydream about my ideal collection, I’d pick three of the 10 colourways in the palette to use together in a mix-and-match interior scheme – the deep pea-green “malachite”, the vivid pink “azalea” and then the yellow of “citrino” (with the pale blue of “iris” a close fourth) – and have an enormous amount of fun clashing and complementing for different occasions.

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