Decorating Tips, Rooms, Shopping + Products

Bongenre: Fancy Melamine Tableware

December 4, 2008

I recently heard from Jill at Bongenre and thought her work was something lots of us may really enjoy, especially for guests and for setting the “children’s table” that so many use during dinner parties when the family gets together. Bongenre is melamine tableware (bowls, plates) with a twist – it’s actually quite elegant! Brooklyn-based founder/designer Jill Fenichell spent 15 years as an antique porcelain and pottery dealer specializing in English blue and white porcelain made in the 18th century.

About her designs Jill says, “I get to think about patterns I love, and work out interesting color relationships and rhythms between shape and pattern and color,” she adds, “The real question is: how to connect the old to the new…that’s what I want to do with my tableware.”

Don’t miss the Winchester Mandala pattern, available in several gorgeous colorways. I’m really into mandalas right now so these totally speak to me, especially in purple, lime, and winter (oooh) which is PERFECT for an indoor party this winter for January/February when everyone is tired of red and blue and white seems to coordinate so nicely with the snowfall. Perfect for gift giving too!

What do you think of Melamine tableware? Yes, no, maybe? Under what circumstances do you use it currently? Outdoor only? Indoor? Do you use it mainly for food or for decorating (on the walls or on plate racks)? Do you think it’s a good option for dinner parties when breaking out the china isn’t something you feel up for and paper plates are definitely not on your menu? Is Melamine the happy ‘in-between’ option for you or…?

(images from bongenre)


  • Reply Sarah December 4, 2008 at 11:11 am

    That tableware is really fun; I love the green one in the top image. I haven’t used melamine since the 90’s. I wonder if it’s changed at all? If I’m not mistaking plastics, I remember that it scratched pretty easily with metal utensils, and was prone to stain. If it was put into the dishwasher by mistake (not its fault, but..) it would develop large bubbles on the surface. I was tempted by the minimalist melamine bento boxes that were popular not so long ago (since so much lunch food is utensil-free anyway) but those memories kept me away. On the other hand, Chinese restaurants that use melamine dishes or spoons seem to keep theirs in good shape — maybe a really ornate, colorful pattern is just what’s needed to keep any wear from showing!

  • Reply Luphia December 4, 2008 at 11:31 am

    these are gorgeous, i would happily use it everyday! (actually, depedning on the price tag…)

    Luphias last blog post: Look of the week + Wish list

  • Reply Denise Smith December 4, 2008 at 11:59 am

    The items shown are wonderful. I think if I had those I might use them. I have purchased such plates at Target a few times on a whim-one collection was actually called Whim-but I found I really don’t use them. Why? I guess it is because they are so trendy and busy that they don’t look so great with the food.

    I have an Ikea 3 miles away so I have a big collection of ceramic dishes that I use for every day and I have so many I never need to use paper at parties. Because Ikea is so cheap I imagine this saves me money. Luckily the set three color, very plain set I use now they have stocked for 3 years, so I replace an add as needed. The most expensive bowl is $4.

    Denise Smiths last blog post: Black Walls

  • Reply Jill December 4, 2008 at 12:19 pm

    Hey Holly, thanks for the post. Melamine is such an odd plastic. When you use it the right way (NO microwave, please!) – it lasts for a really long time. I wasn’t planning on being the queen of plastic but we use it all the time for every meal. I live with a just say no to style husband and a style freak teenaged son, and … we just got tired of our Wedgwood. It was…really plain. Anyway, can’t wait to read what people say. And just so everyone knows NO ONE ever suggested any dog, cat, baby, child or adult should ever eat melamine flakes. That’s like eating talcum powder – yuck! Melamine when combined with all that wood pulp and what not, is INERT, and that’s a darn good thing. Happy plates,

  • Reply Swestie December 4, 2008 at 12:43 pm

    Love the look of it but always afraid it will melt in the diswasher… Otherwise, if I could find a cool enough set, I would use it every day!

    Swesties last blog post: God?s Glitter/Nature?s Bling

  • Reply Kristan December 4, 2008 at 2:28 pm

    Am I the only one who doesn’t know what Melamine is?? :(

    Kristans last blog post: iPhone coffee table

  • Reply Erin @ Bride Design December 4, 2008 at 3:04 pm

    Love the Mandala plates, they’d definitely make me happy.

    Erin @ Bride Designs last blog post: Dear Santa…

  • Reply Tamara December 4, 2008 at 5:57 pm

    What a great find! I have 2 young kids – I wonder if I could encourage them to use the mandala plates rather than their current favourites – “Pooh Bear” and “Lightning McQueen”!

  • Reply belledame December 4, 2008 at 8:02 pm

    When I was little in the ’70s, our dishes were melamine. We got stoneware around ’83. Now I keep a few for like grilled cheese sandwiches. They are really handy for visiting children (ceramic tile kitchen floor). Older kids don’t even realize they’re plastic. There are such great patterns available esp. for college kids.

    But treat yourself right and have real glasses and dishes. The difference is huge.

  • Reply Beth December 5, 2008 at 9:22 pm

    Oh God, how I love melamine! Last year I bought a set of pretty melamine cups by “Rice” and they are always the first cups we reach for. I feel guilty using plastic but oh how we love them.

    Those Bongenre plates are incredible. Oh great, one more thing I can’t afford for me to lust after…

  • Reply laura December 6, 2008 at 2:58 am

    i love my target melamine cereal bowls and my set of martha stewart mixing bowls. i reach for the melamine bowls much more often than the ceramic and glass bowls because of their weight and bright colors.

    i would -totally- pick up a set of these if i was looking for new dishes and could afford the extra cash. they are gorgeous, and i’m betting would become the new favorite dishes to pull out of the cabinet.

  • Reply Lala December 7, 2008 at 3:04 pm

    nice design :)

    Lalas last blog post: Happy Birthday Tutun

  • Leave a Reply

    Scroll Up