As a clay artist, there's a lot I could say about plates. They're a deceptively important object in the kitchen and any connoisseur of handmade pottery knows that not all ceramic plates are created equal.
While I do love functional ceramics for everyday use, today there’s another kind of ceramic plate I want to talk about—and it's not the kind you eat on. Plates also serve as works of art and they can play an important role in interior design.
Let's take a look at the different kinds of plates you may consider using in your design concept.
Different kinds of decorative ceramic plates
If you're interested in incorporating plates into your decor, first you should consider all of the different kinds of plates available to you. Afterwards, you can decide if you want to use a stand-alone piece, a collection of different kinds of plates, or an assortment of similar plates.
Decorative plates have been sought after as ornamental decoration as far back as the 14th century, when merchants first introduced Chinese products to Europe. Delicate decorative dishes became popular collectibles among European nobility for their novelty, rarity and beauty.
Pablo Picasso knew that ceramic vessels and plates allow a painter to bring exuberance to the room. He started creating decorative plates and other ceramic artwork in the 1940's and continued until the end of his life. (You can even find some of his ceramics for sale here.) Today, there are many contemporary artists painting unique and beautiful designs on plates.
On my painted plates, I use a design technique called cueda seca, which was traditionally used to paint tiles and other architectural or decorative pieces in central Asia in the 14th century.
These are my personal favorite! I create unique artistic plates that fuse contemporary design with wild scenes from roaring beaches and pristine forests. They have texture and layers. Sometimes they have sand or natural elements fused with the glaze.
Collections of Plates
More commonly, you'll see artistic compositions created with plates. The plates can be decorated, plain colors, or even plain white. What's important is how and where they're placed. The designer must craft a careful balance for the collection to be pleasing to the eye.
How to use decorative plates in your interior design
Plates can hang by themselves, in collections or mixed-matched groups. Plates allow for great design versatility, with the added advantage that the unique style of the designer shines through in their placement.
Pablo Picasso: “Motifs No. 17”
Painted plates using cuerda seca.
Amelia Johannsen's artistic plates.
Let’s look at some ways to use decorative ceramic plates in your interior design.
Filling a large, open space
Do you have a large, blank wall that needs decoration, but you don’t want to over-power the room with a huge painting? A collection of plates can help fill large spaces, without becoming a dominating force in the room’s decor. Find your own, unique arrangement in the middle of the wall for an original art installation.
Bringing character to unexpected places
The kitchen or dining room are common places to hang a few plates to bring life to your walls, but how about on your deck or patio?
In Andalusia—Southern Spain—as well as in Morocco, decorative ceramic plates are used alongside hanging plants to decorate beautiful large patios. They create spaces that make you want to pull up a chair and relax for hours.
Filling in and adding curves
Plates can be used on book shelves and above fireplaces to break up the collection of strict horizontal and vertical lines. They also work well in corners or thin strips of wall space that need some color and attention.
Step-by-step instructions for hanging plates like a pro
Check out this article by Fred Gonsowski on how to hang your plates like a pro! He covers: stacking plates up a wall and looking at visual weights, directed action of images on plates, looking at different groupings of plates that might inspire you, grouping plates around a center item “focal point”, and composing an arrangement on the floor and getting it up onto the wall.
"Diversity of elements adds visual interest in interior decorating. When you hang a collection of plates up on a wall, you have something else to look at other than the often seen paintings, prints, photos and sometimes tapestries. Hanging a collection of plates is not just limited to dining rooms, breakfast rooms or kitchens, Plates can be hung in living rooms, bedrooms, libraries, bathrooms and halls as well." - Fred Gonsowski
How to hang your plates and platters
There are a number of ways that you can hang your plates on the wall, some are more permanent than others.
I use the metal-spring plate hangers that can be purchased in hardware and home-supply shops or online. They're very easy to use and remove and I've never had a plate fall off of the wall. Just make sure you're using the right size, so that the plate fits snug into the holder.
Create your own design
I hope you've found this post useful and inspiring. Decorating with plates is a great way to incorporate your own personal style and personality. I hope you have fun with it!
Please share any additional tips and ideas in the comments section below!