Astier de Villatte Ceramics + A Deeper Meaning

August 9, 2011

I’ve been meaning to write a post about Paris-based store Astier de Villatte for over a year now but kept forgetting or found myself onto something else (my attention span can be so short, if I were a dog I’d be a golden retriever for sure!), but today this will change because I’m focused and ready to share my ceramics obsession: Astier de Villatte.

Astier de Villatte Ceramics + A Deeper Meaning

In fact, when I was at Liberty in April I vowed to tell you about Astier de Villatte ceramics even then, especially after using some of their pieces in the table styling demo that we did in Liberty’s dining room (we used the Marguerite side and dinner plates, Marguerite Tea Cup, and the Conserve vases in small and medium shown below and a few other miscellaneous pieces).

I imagine food served on these plates would look that much more appetizing and I’ve decided to start working on my collection of them, one piece at a time, since I currently don’t own a single one. Perhaps one day I will own an entire Astier de Villatte table collection and fill my gray French vitrine with them – I imagine they’d look gorgeous inside of it and on my table as well. I’m quite pleased to finally have found my dream set of dishware. It sounds a bit materialistic and almost vain to say that, but to date, I’ve never found dishware that I was completely smitten by and I’ve been searching for a long time.

My current plates are basic plain white porcelain and my last set was plain white with a rim from Crate & Barrell, and though I liked them quite a lot, I didn’t love them – they weren’t something I would imagine passing down to my grandchildren. In fact, when I relocated to Germany I sold them at my yard sale.

You see, like many of you who “get this”,  I’ve always wanted something (china particularly) to pass down because there has to be something of value, tangible at the end of the day other than tweets and blog posts or mass-consumed goods from the local big box store.

When my husband’s grandmother gave us an entire tea service for our wedding gift, something she had used for years, I teared up – it had and still has great meaning in our family and now that she has passed away she is still seated at the table whenever we use it. Though Astier de Villatte is a dream collection for me to own, I imagine building a collection piece by piece so that I can serve guests and someday, hand it to my children and they can pass it on… I want to start investing in a few things like this – in a world full of chaos, mass consumption, Made In China, war, terrorism – maybe a plate is a rather mundane thing to place emphasis on but I believe that the physical things in our “world” at home are bookmarks and links to our memories, to places, to things… and those can help us to feel a part of our own community and a bit connected — a feeling of belonging and love that can be felt through taking tea from your grandmother’s tea service because you remember when you would sit with her using that same tea set when she laid the table.

Shopping is often dubbed, “retail therapy” and attached to negative feelings or consequences – but it doesn’t have to be like that. It can be joyous and meaningful at times. I don’t believe going into a big store and spending $100 on a cart full of plastic junk is joyous and meaningful. Most of that stuff ends up in your spring yard sale. I know, I’ve done it many times in the past. Quantity isn’t the goal. Quality is important and when it comes to certain things, like handmade goods, quality often comes with a much higher price tag. You can’t always afford everything to be “special” or meaningful though, let’s face it – that’s silly. But some things should have meaning, whether they are passed down to you from others that you love or found in a special shop that you enjoy, or of the highest quality. I sip my Kusmi tea a lot slower than I drink my Twinnings. It’s not because I don’t appreciate both, it’s because the quality of one surpasses the other so the experience is better and because it’s more expensive, the experience is also less frequent making it special.

Astier de Villatte Ceramics + A Deeper Meaning

Astier de Villatte Ceramics + A Deeper Meaning

Astier de Villatte Ceramics + A Deeper Meaning

Would you like to see some photos of their shop taken just a few weeks ago by Aussie photographer (aka roving globetrotter reporter), Jillian Leiboff?
Astier de Villatte Ceramics + A Deeper Meaning

Astier de Villatte Ceramics + A Deeper Meaning

Astier de Villatte Ceramics + A Deeper Meaning

Astier de Villatte Ceramics + A Deeper Meaning

Astier de Villatte Ceramics + A Deeper Meaning

When shopping for decorative accessories, or even pieces of furniture, why not save for the cherished piece? Not everything need be the absolute best of the best, or even The feeling of collecting a piece of Astier de Villatte bit by bit, building the collection over time until it is complete, could be a nice memory passed down through these pieces to my future children. For my kids to know they had a mom who really took the time to collect something useful that had meaning and value. Who doesn’t look back with fondness on a parent who cared about creating meaning?

I know I’m going down a totally random path with this but I see great value in some material possessions, not all, but some and I encourage others to think more about how something can add a layer of meaning to your life.

With each piece from the collection shown above handmade in Paris using black terracotta clay in milky white glaze allowing for the black to peek through ever so slightly, what’s not to cherish about these pieces? While they appear to be quite delicate they are known for being extremely durable and are perfect for everyday use. They are even microwave safe and can be placed into the dishwasher… like I needed more reasons to want their dishes and mugs… I love their uneven forms which are quite thin and based on 18th and 19th century shapes, their irregular surfaces, occasional air bubbles, in fact their organic shapes appeal to me the most.

Astier de Villatte also carries their own beauty products, candles (available online at Barneys) and a carefully curated selection of antique furniture but it’s their ceramics I love most.

* The Astier de Villatte store at 173 rue Saint-Honoré in Paris.

(photos: store – Jillian Leiboff, tabletop decor – Tiffany Kirschner-Dixon)


  • Reply Luciane at Home Bunch August 9, 2011 at 5:01 pm

    Loved it! Amazing, classic, beautiful!

    Great details in this post. Well written.

    Have a great day.



  • Reply Enila August 9, 2011 at 5:13 pm

    This shop is amazing, i love their ceramics! (But so expensive :( )

  • Reply Erica Cottrill August 9, 2011 at 5:30 pm

    I love the idea of mixing and matching old and new. It offers the best of both worlds – and makes a great heirloom piece to pass down to the next generation. I’ve collected depression-era china as well as Fiesta pieces which adds a pop of color to any space. I adore the misshaped plates. So unique!

  • Reply The Salvage Snob August 9, 2011 at 5:45 pm

    I absolutely LOVE this post!!!! White ceramic, what’s not to love!!! I enjoy ur blog everyday!!

  • Reply sécia August 9, 2011 at 6:21 pm

    I want to go shopping THERE.


  • Reply Lindsay August 9, 2011 at 6:44 pm

    I totally agree – Astier is so very beautiful! I have a collection myself but can’t imagine it will survive to be handed down the generations as I’ve found it to be very, very fragile (even compared to fine bone china). But I don’t believe in ‘keeping things for best’ so I use it anyway, as it makes me so happy to set the table with such gorgeous, artisan pieces.

  • Reply teresita August 9, 2011 at 7:36 pm

    Such nice things! lucky you in Paris….

  • Reply houseofearnest August 9, 2011 at 8:09 pm

    their pieces are amazing – I always drool over them in a little boutique store we have in my town. I am just waiting for the money tree in my backyard to sprout before I can purchase :)

  • Reply Ericka August 9, 2011 at 8:44 pm

    Hi Holly,

    I thought when I was reading your post, I was reading my own words on the screen! I was a Home Designer at major retailers for 7 years and couldn’t get over the ‘throw away’ society we were living in. I realized the product my parents made; handmade, functional, stoneware pottery is something that was missing in the marketplace. The demand for cheap, disposable dinnerware, made overseas in a factory, is not what consumers are seeing. I wanted to show my parents work to the world because I believe there was a desire for products crafted by hand, a passion, and a lifetime of experience. They only did art shows in the summer and didn’t have a website, so I quit my corporate job to join and kind of ‘start’ the company.

    And thanks for writing and sharing such a great post! ~Ericka

  • Reply Meriem August 9, 2011 at 8:52 pm

    Thanks for this great post, I know where i am heading next week when I go back to Paris. I lived in Paris for many years and never went to this shop. (Shame on me). Now you have given me the inspiration to make Astier de Villatte my first port of call. Hope they are open as everywhere is closing for August in France now it seems.

    Meriem from France x

  • Reply Kathi August 9, 2011 at 9:05 pm

    While I love everyone of your posts this one is perfection!!! I love white and am in the middle of redoing several shelves of my white treasures. Just the inspiration I needed- thank you Holly :D

  • Reply Michael August 9, 2011 at 9:18 pm

    This is my favourite store in the world and these people are my design Icons. I went to Paris last year all the way from Cape Town, only to find it closed. There were drops of salty water all the way to the Tulleries that day. Thank you for this post and sharing their beauty with the rest of the us!

  • Reply ana August 9, 2011 at 9:58 pm

    This is stunning! especially the polka dot placemat and table setting ! too cute

    { ana ::}

  • Reply Halen August 9, 2011 at 10:01 pm

    Lovely plates, white is my favorite color, Your article makes me hungry, cant wait to dine in ceramics plate after a while :)

  • Reply Cindy August 9, 2011 at 11:03 pm

    I loved this post! I started buying dishes at Brimfield a year ago and I am slowly building a collection of mismatched brown & white transferware and white ironstone. It is fun to use them at holidays and on special occasions and remember where I found them. But until I find more it is a pretty small dinner party!

  • Reply fenny setiawan August 10, 2011 at 5:36 am

    This is adorable collection, I love to hunt ceramic plates and dining ware my self ( of course within my affordability), and I always admire those artist that create a beautiful pieces for us to admire or dine with it :).

  • Reply Vivechana August 10, 2011 at 8:35 am

    what a beautiful piece … resonated strongly with it … we do need more quality and beauty in our lives and the world … thanking for sharing your thoughts … so needed in this time and age we live in …

  • Reply Diana August 11, 2011 at 10:12 am

    Its awesome. Do you know if there any store in Germany selling these?

  • Reply Heather August 11, 2011 at 2:45 pm

    I also completely agree about having that special dinner service which can be passed on to generations. I recently got married and was loathed to have a wedding list at a high street department store. I want a lovely dinner service but I was to hunt for it find something vintage, hidden in a small shop that has already had a wonderful life. My biggest fear with buying from a new mass produced line is the worry of it being discontinued, new tableware doesn’t seem to be around for long before it’s gone! So the hunt for me continues …

  • Reply Izzy August 11, 2011 at 4:19 pm

    So what’s wrong with Made in China? More and more things are made in China, it’s no longer a synonym for inferior quality. I take it you don’t mean it the wrong way but it’s nearly a tad bit insulting…

  • Reply Jakabock August 11, 2011 at 6:39 pm

    It’s a wonderful idea to start collecting “physical” pieces you cherish which can be passed down to your children. That appreciation seems to evade many parents now a days. As you stated, with the made in china era we are in, there are fewer and fewer quality items that people posses. Which makes passing down anything difficult or rather not worthwhile. Great Article!

  • Reply jenny lee fowler August 11, 2011 at 10:57 pm

    What a treat to have a peek in their shop. I have a small collection of their pieces and treasure them. I also lived in Germany for a time and found the whole attitude toward “things” there to be a more focused on quality and enduringness. Nice to hear that sentiment here.

  • Reply Deepa August 12, 2011 at 3:21 pm

    I was just in Paris this weekend. Right on rue St-Honore, I saw a Japanese woman holding a white paper bag labeled Astier de Villatte… I knew it was a familiar name but couldn’t place it. And now this post makes me say… DRAT! I should have stopped by the store while I was there!

  • Reply Kate August 15, 2011 at 7:35 am

    Thankyou! I am obsessed with Astier De Villatte, now I don’t feel so alone!
    I totally agree in collecting these magnificant pieces to pass on. Visiting the store in Paris is a dream of mine, hopefully one day it will come true :)

  • Reply Kathryn August 18, 2011 at 6:40 am

    This is what we registered for – I love that it’s easily dressed up or down, and that even if they discontinue a pattern, they sort of beg to be mismatched.

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