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Paola Navone's Taste vs. West Elm's NeoBaroque

September 27, 2011 |  8:08 am

Paola Navone's Taste, West Elm's NeoBaroque
The Look for Less -- Paola Navone's Taste vs. West Elm's NeoBaroque: Designers have taken the florid, ornately carved patterns of Baroque and Rococo furniture designs and flattened them to stark silhouettes. Here the trend is translated into tableware: Italian design superstar Paola Navone's 2009 Taste collection, and design-democratizer West Elm's subsequent NeoBaroque dishes.

One of the pictures above is Navone's Taste dinner plate, which she designed for Reichenbach, a prestigious porcelain manufacturer in Germany. It costs almost $80. Per plate. The other is West Elm's NeoBaroque dish made of stoneware in Portugal; a set of four costs $32. 

Which is which, and why does one cost nearly 10 times more than the other? Keep reading ...

Paola Navone Taste The Taste plate, top left and at right, is made from porcelain, a significantly more expensive material whose production process results in pieces with some translucence to the finish.

Porcelain is made from kaolin, a white clay that retains its color in the kiln. It is fired at temperatures in excess of 2,370 degrees in two stages -- the first to harden the clay, the second to induce vitrification, which produces a smooth, glass-like finish. The finished plates are safe for use in the microwave oven and dishwasher, and they are chip-resistant.

The Taste porcelain dishes can be purchased for $77 apiece at Inheritance in Los Angeles. They are $78 at the national online retailer Tabula Tua.

Porcelain is more vitrified than stoneware, the material that West Elm uses in its NeoBaroque collection, top right. Stoneware differs from porcelain not only in its color -- which is more like oatmeal than the pure white of porcelain -- but also in the way it is fired. Stoneware vitrifies during a single firing at a lower temperature than porcelain requires. An easy way to tell them apart: Turn a piece upside down. If the bottom rim is a matte oatmeal color but the rest of the plate is glazed, it's stoneware.

-- David A. Keeps 

Photo credits: Reichenbach, West Elm