The core of Modernist design philosophy is that good design makes life better. The core of my housekeeping philosophy is that my life is better when I don’t to have to hand wash any dishes. From one Atomic Era enthusiast to another, there are a few contemporary standards that I don’t want to live without:
- Dishwashers. As much as I love my dishwasher, it is unfortunately no friend to the fab designs on my vintage MCM barware and printed Pyrex. It’s best to hand wash pieces that have been painted or printed using non-abrasive cleaners.
- Microwaves. While you can test vintage ceramic and glass items to see how they handle the heat of a microwave oven, zapping your leftovers on retro plates can be dangerous for your dishes, your dinner, and your hands.
- Safe Materials. I think we can all agree that contemporary laws for keeping lead, cadmium and other toxic metals out of newly produced household items is a good thing. Vintage ceramics made before these laws were enacted, however, can be bought, sold, collected and used without warning of the potential toxicity in the glazes. If the glaze on your vintage dishes look cracked, crazed, or otherwise compromised, it’s safer to leave them on the shelf and off the dining table.
In the pursuit of good design and a better life, I’m looking out for dishes, glasses and cookware made in the style I love, the convenience I crave, and that also meets contemporary standards for safety.
Atomic Ranch curates the best of Mid Century Modern design to share with our readers. Some of the products you’ll see featured in this story are affiliate links, which means that if you click through and make a purchase, AR will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Russel Wright himself called his American Modern line the “little black dress” of dinnerware. The classic shapes look great on any table and are easy to dress up or down for everyday use and festive occasions. In fact, American Modern is the best selling ceramic dinnerware line in history. Bauer Pottery in California produces the line now (Stubenville Pottery produced the originals), and notes that the current glazes are free of lead and uranium.
Dansk products have been admired for their gorgeous designs for decades (you’ll see them pop up a few times in this list), and the Porcelain Speckled Dinnerware is no exception. In true Scandinavian fashion, these plates, bowls and mugs manage to be both earthy and elegant.
We know and love the iconic Kobenstyle enameled pots, and now you can find the same look in porcelain dishes and serveware. I love how the white and black color palette is so stylistically versatile, while the unique shapes make a statement. The whole set is going on my wish list.
Barware and Beverages
Enjoy your favorite classic cocktails from an equally classic glass with these Italian-imported vintage-style vessels. You can buy each style in a set of four, or outfit your bar all at once with a set of 16 with each option included.
Made in Italy with lead-free glass, these glittering amber cocktail glasses look high maintenance but are actually very easy going (again, dishwasher safe!). They’ll look fantastic on your bar cart and even better in your hand with a twist of lemon on the rim.
If our love for dinnerware designers like Russel Wright and Eve Ziesel has taught us anything, it’s that the handcrafted shapes of organic curves belong at the table. The Organic Glassware is made of sturdy borosilicate glass, so it’ll withstand high temperatures like a champ.
Grab this glass carafe with its walnut stopper to go with your monkey pod salad bowls and other hand-turned entertaining accessories. While the wood stopper should never be submerged, the Italian glass container is dishwasher safe.
Terrazzo belongs on the floor, the bed, and anywhere else we can find to put this colorful pattern. That’s why we love the Porter Terrazzo Water Bottle, the silicon cover is just as protective as it is stylish.
Coffee and Tea
Simple, stylish and perfect for elevating your morning cup of coffee from a necessity to a pleasure.
I shared the complete Kobenstyle dinnerware set above, but had specifically call out the tea pot because that fabulous lid and handle, modeled after Jens Quistgaard’s original 1956 designs, need more attention.
I’m picking up Googie diner vibes from this stainless steel set, and I want to bring those vibes home for a cuppa.
Prep + Serving + Storage
Ever-collectible vintage jadeite (and its colorful cousins delphite, roseite and milk glass) provides the inspiration for these mixing bowls.
The best of retro cookware is not only functional, but also a worthy of display even when it’s not in use. That’s how I feel about the Kobebstyle Casserole. It’s dishwasher safe, though hand-washing is recommended, but it is safe for the oven, a variety of stovetops and in the freezer as well.
Take it back to 1968 with the Generations Bakeware collection! The speckled set is exactly the kind of stylish statement I want to see on my Thanksgiving table.
The airtight lids of hand-turned walnut make these jars an attractive option to display and serve decanted provisions.
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