A while ago, we had a fabulous party at home for Alan’s 50th birthday. We hired an Italian chef from one of our favorite restaurants who serenaded us with endless of delicacies like burrata cheese, seafood ravioli, lollipop style lamb chops- it was non-stop, orgiastic culinary bliss. All on what I thought were designer plates.
Halfway through the night (and after a few glasses of wine), I asked the chef, “Where did you get those plates?” They were simple: white, sturdy and without a big ridge- the perfect canvases for his gourmet delicacies. I thought he was going to spout off a name like Vera Wang, or some collection from Williams-Sonoma. Instead, he replied with one famous Swedish word: IKEA. What?
Alan and I spend a lot of time cooking. It’s one of our passions. We’re always running off to ethnic grocery stores for crazy ingredients like galangal, garam masala or black sesame seeds. Ditto for the heirloom vegetables at Farmer’s Markets.
A Designer Praising Ikea?
As interior designers, we mistakenly thought it important to make a statement with our dishes. Ours were a funky Bohemian mix of different colors and patterns. We thought they were cool. Yet we struggled how the green plate didn’t set off the herbs well, or how our homemade Sunday Italian “gravy “didn’t look so great on the red plate. And then what combination of colors and patterns if you were having 8 people over? Yes, the Instagram struggle was real. And then I had my Eureka, quasi Bill Clinton 1992 campaign realization: IT’S THE FOOD, STUPID!
I’m not here to say that we think Ikea lighting is just as good as something beautiful from say, Visual Comfort. Or that since that Ikea barstool looks just like the Bernhardt one, it must be just as good. These should be durable things, bought very infrequently. Our parents and grandparents used to save up to buy a Stiffel lamp. Or a Henredon sofa. But for a host of everyday, and even a few designer staple items, Ikea can’t be beat. Some people call their products “democratically designed.”
So we trekked out to the great Swedish Temple of Blue, bought 2 eight piece sets for $24.99 each and have never looked back. They don’t get hot like my oh-so-hip stoneware did. They don’t draw attention to themselves. If they break, I don’t freak out.
We’re not out to impress people with how we overspent on dishes. We want to delight friends and family with gorgeous, homemade food. I’ve got that Italian grandmother streak in me.