By Allison Zisko
NEW YORK–When Oneida set out to design a new solid-color dinnerware program, it went straight to the source: female consumers.
Extensive consumer research, combined with a strong food-service platform and input from a professional colorist, led to the creation of Culinaria, its major launch at the spring tabletop show here last month. Culinaria, which replaces the solid-color Buffalo China line, is a core program designed to boost Oneida’s brand name.
Retail interest in the program during market was strong, according to David Sank, chief marketing officer. “You will be seeing it on retail shelves this fall.”
Female opinions were an important part of the product development process, according to Paul Gebhardt, vice president and director of design. In focus groups, consumers said the color must be compelling, there had to be strong mix-and-match potential, and lifestyle and home interiors had to harmoniously blend on the table. They also voted on the shape of the plate.
The resulting pattern addresses both the preparation and the serving of food and drink (the program will later expand into glassware and flatware).
Culinaria comes in eight colors that enhance food but do not compete with it. The launch colors were whittled down from a larger group with help from Leslie Harrington, a colorist who is known for, among others things, assigning names to each of Benjamin Moore’s paints. The colors’ undertones allow for various pairings for an endless number of looks, but the three most popular colors heading into the show were A La Mode (off-white), Chili and Blue Sage.
“An estimated 60 percent of a consumer’s decision to purchase a product is based on color,” Harrington said. “Personal style, types of food and interior design all influence color selection. I designed the Culinaria palette to enhance the appeal of food and the family dining experience. ”
The plates, made of high-fired, vitreous earthenware, are available as both circles and softened square. They have a concentric ring design and nest for easy storage.
Restaurant-quality attributes include things like a flat center well plating surface, a steep verge angle to help diners “catch” the food on their fork and a finger-touch grip to make the dinnerware easy to grasp. A rolled edge helps prevent chipping, but the company is nonetheless offering a no-chip warranty.
“We’re really excited about the line and what it means to the consumer, the ownership experience,” Gebhardt said. “We wanted to make sure we could bring that food-service performance.”
A four-piece place setting retails for $24.99, but Oneida is encouraging open-stock buying. The collection includes accessories such as a vegetable bowl, oval platter and a rectangular bread plate.