Goodbye china sets, hello luxe entertaining products

March 5, 2015, 12:30 PM UTC
Courtesy of Arte Italica

Mink throws, fur pillows and beautiful glass art pieces are in demand on wedding registries, according to Susan Krautsack, general manager of Material Possessions, a luxury home accessories and furnishings shop in Chicago. Gone are matching five piece china settings, she adds. As more wedding couples marry at an older age or are celebrating their second or third nuptials, they’re choosing to add more luxury items that suit their entertaining lifestyle to their lists. So what to get that couple that has everything?

“Someone just bought a couple, well into their fifties, a $1,500 glass art sculpture by an artist,” says Krautsack. “People are buying more of those specialty items: very high-end and not a typical item that you’d find anywhere.”

Older or more established couples tend to have a better sense of their style and because they already have those essentials like pots and pans, they’re choosing more specific gifts to make their new house a home. That could mean adding a chandelier, fine art such as art glass sculptures or gilded bookends, Krautsack says, all of which she has seen on recent registries.

It’s a trend being seen across the board, from retailers to manufacturers who are beginning to create products to meet the rising demand for luxury wedding gift registries.

Courtesy of Arte Italica

“We hear from retailers across the gift and home spectrum that older marrying couples have become very specific about the sorts of gifts they hope to receive,” says Perry Reynolds, vice president of global trade development for the International Housewares Association. “Having already set up housekeeping, their tastes tend to skew toward more elegant gifts and tableware or more durable, premium branded products for the kitchen.”

A heavier emphasis on entertaining, enjoying life and time at home has contributed to choosing more products that make entertaining fun and memorable, says Chris Collins, president and principal owner of Arte Italica, an importer of luxury European dinnerware and home accessories.

“The trend toward casual dining has put more emphasis on the presentation of the cocktail hour and the non-dining experience, which has lead to the uptick in improving the quality in the bar presentation,” Collins notes.

Collins is especially noticing a rise in sales of large decorative and unique serving pieces among home accessory and entertaining gifts and fine wine glasses, unique decanters as well as bar accessories within the barware category.

“The bar, in some cases, has become the focal point of the entertaining ‘presentation’ which used be exclusively the dinner table,” adds Collins.

Krautsack says that the cocktail craze also has helped bring back high-end china and mixing what was always known as traditional china with modern pieces. “For many years, we didn’t sell china,” she admits. No one was asking for five-piece place settings for dinnerware. Now, texture and mixing works for couples.

Instead, these days Krautsack and her team help couples build on what they already have and if that includes their grandmother’s heirloom china, they can make it their own by mixing and matching more modern pieces to the mix. “That may mean a place setting will include a cup and saucer from this designer and a charger or salad bowl from another,” she explains. “We don’t put it together cookie-cutter style. We make it shine for people.”

Material Possessions has been around 37 years, and it’s seen wedding registries that have included everything from two sets of dishes in year’s past to custom-made furniture and luxury barware today.

More important to couples today is choosing luxury products that are classic and serve their entertaining needs.