Counter Intelligence: Pretty Urban Plates

Being 22, with no idea where I'm going to be living in 5 years, it doesn't make sense for me to actually, like, have a table setting. I'm not even really talking about the fancy stuff (I have dibs on my grandma's), but general "let's have some pizza" dishes. Last year, with Dave out of college and breaking free of the college bubble with his own little apartment, I glimpsed a future devoid of dishware: mismatched plates, a dearth of forks, glasses so few and far between that you were forced to hunt through living room and bed room for a simple drink of water (actually they got more glasses, mostly through my job as an erstwhile bartender, but slippery glasses, unstable drying racks, and gravity too-often conspired against them).

And so, worried I would eat directly from the pan, I decided to get myself a nice set of plates, bowls, and glasses that were cheap, well made, beautifully-designed, and lovely to look at. Where did I get these discount dreamy dishes? Ikea? Bed, Bath, & Beyond? Crate & Barrel? Nope! It was that haven of the wealthy, would-be bohemian, Urban Outfitters.

Generally, I don't like to support Urban Outfitters. There was a time back when I used to wear ironic t-shirts a lot (like a cut-out of a sea monster with the words "FREE NESSY" written underneath), and I used to visit the store semi-frequently for their soft, comfy tees (now I am lured by Forever 21, where you can get a t-shirt for less than a sandwich). I don't really love the Urban Outfitters style, which tends to be along the lines of $200-net dresses that manage to make even emaciated hipsters look like those rolly-polly hippoes from Fantasia. Still, clothes aside, I've found to my delight (astonishment/confusion/whatever) that Urban Outfitters has a respectable home goods department (like my bright, beautiful, peony-and-polka dot quilt! pulls the whole room together and I would wax poetic but this is a food blog, apparently).

I was pleased to discover their dishes are just lovely, designed by top graphic artists and painters, and often sold at fairly reasonable prices (bargain basement forever inscribed upon my heart). They have a collection of simple bowls and plates in bright and bold colors and a series of designer collections for those that want a little more flash. I picked a bunch of dishes with different colors and designs, although all my bowls are red with little bird designs on the inside. I lo-o-o-ove the Artist Series and Artists' Plate Series (get it? plate as in a drawing in a book, plate as in you eat? Urban you are so witty), and despite the fact I would only ever really have Dave over dinner, I might spring for a complete set. They run about $6 for 8" plates and bowls and $8 for 11" plates, meaning a full 4-person set can cost as much as $80 (compared to $24 for a full 6-person set at Ikea), but they are very often on sale for as little as $2, they do look quite pretty, and if you're not a great cook, you should at least have something nice associated with your meals (Note: this is not why I have these, but it helps).

Actually, they have some very cute stuff even aside from their dishware, like the Elephant Salt and Pepper Shakers (they also have stupid stuff, though. Hos and Pimps glasses? Ho no, Urban Outfitters). Glasses, though, I was less than impressed with. I got plastic tumblers that cracked in less than 3 months. I guess they were just for show.

I posted some of my favorite plates and bowls below, all available online

Simple, clean lines, pretty flower, nice color

This fish is a-dor-a-ble, although you might be a
little weirded out eating salmon on it

Another classic design, nicely playing off of blue-style filigree pottery
(that sounded super-pretentious. Sorry readers)

Such whimsy!
A lovely little birdie set, sweet colors, nice design

Possibly my absolute favorite.
I like that it kinda looks like the Old Spice ship,
and the subtle coloring in the plate brought out by the bowl

This one is maybe a little busy for dinner, but still rather beautiful

One of their classic soup bowls. You could get a raaainbow!

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