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Meet the Warby Parker of dishware |

Meet the Warby Parker of dishware

I didn’t spend much time picking the pattern. In a hectic afternoon, I grabbed the best boxed set of dinnerware on the shelf and stuck them in my cart. I eventually grew to hate the colorful flower pattern on them that didn’t go with anything in my house, but I held on to them for nearly a decade. At the back of my mind, my plan was to wait until I got engaged so I could pick a gorgeous, high-end set of wedding china to put on my registry.

[Photo: David William Baum/Year Day]

It turns out, I wasn’t the only one who suffered through ugly plates throughout my twenties. Kathryn Duryea, founder of a direct-to-consumer dishware startup called Year Day, says this is a trend among today’s twenty- and thirtysomethings. She should know. She’s spent the last two years investigating the specific plate-buying habits of millennials, the oldest of whom are now 37. “Our lives have modernized in many ways, but bizarrely, we still buy our dishes based on very traditional notions of marriage and wedding registry,” she says. “Many of us still wait till we get married before we invest in proper plates, but we’re getting married later and later.”


Duryea, a Stanford MBA who spent several years at Tiffany’s before launching her company, wants to fundamentally alter millennials’ relationship with their plates. Year Day produces elegant, high-quality dinnerware, flatware, and glassware, then sells it to the customer through a website. While the brand occasionally does pop-ups, often with other home brands, Duryea has found that many customers are willing to take a risk and buy plates online. She’s created a $26 set of four small dip dishes that give customers a sense of the colors and materials in the ceramics, and allow them to test out the products before buying a whole set.

[Photo: David William Baum/Year Day]

The ceramic dishes have a modern, minimal design. There are no fussy floral patterns or family crests in sight, nor do you have to wade through 30 different fork designs that all look the same. Instead, the plates, bowls, mugs, and serving platters come in four matte colors–cream, gray, deep navy, and rose–which can be easily mixed and matched to create easy but beautiful table settings. “Many brands on the market create everyday dishes that are different from more formal tableware for fancy dinners,” says Duryea. “But that’s just not how millennials live today. We don’t have time or space for multiple sets, and most of us like our parties to have a casual, relaxed feel.”

[Photo: David William Baum/Year Day]

The silverware comes in one simple design, but in three colors: gold, steel, and black. And there are only three types of glasses, one for wine, and short and tall tumblers. This no-nonsense approach to product selection came from months of consumer research. “Consumers are overwhelmed and confused by all the designs on the market,” Duryea explains. “And the truth is, we don’t actually need all the choice. Many wine critics actually say that a single wineglass is all we need for red or white wine, or even champagne.”

[Photo: David William Baum/Year Day]

Duryea’s focus is on using high-quality materials and craftsmanship: The flatware is made in a family-owned factory in Portugal, where the stainless steel pieces are polished by hand. The ceramics are also made in Portugal, using local clays that are molded by hand and then fired in kilns.

Category: Dinnerware  Tags: ,  Comments off
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