Friday, October 9, 2009

Heller plates

Back in my early youth (as I look upon it from my crochety and occasionally dyspeptic present), I bought some handsome plastic plates and mugs at the local Crate and Barrel store, which in those days was a pretty fine place to shop. Leading as I did a rather maritime life, I didn't want too many breakables.
The said plastics, in an orange-tinged red and a cobalt blue, have been my main plates ever since. Unfortunately, while I'm not sure just how many I originally bought, their numbers have dwindled over the years. I know that a small blue plate, and I believe the blue mug, got smashed by wild airline baggage handlers (my first scanner also bit the dust on that flight). More recently, it seems I must have lost several plates moving, as I know quite well that I had at least five of the large plates in Pittsburgh and somehow only had three when I unpacked. (Where can they have gone?) I really felt that three large plates remaining of what must originally have been six or eight, and two small plates plus two mugs, could not be called a proper supply.
It occurred to me that these fine items--Heller by brand--must still be available somewhere out there. I took to Google and discovered that indeed they are. In fact, they are invariably described as a classic design. They were designed by Massimo Vignelli in the 1960s (no, I did not buy them that long ago) and you can see a fine photo of some of the colors here. They were recently reissued in white (white? how boring) but I was able to find some red ones on Etsy, which arrived today and are in newer, glossier condition than the ones I originally bought long ago. See how splendid they are?

In a fit of enthusiasm, I have now just found and ordered some blue ones on Ebay. While I dislike much mid-twentieth-century design heartily, the Vignelli Heller plates are absolutely divine.


  1. Melmac! It is so durable. Doesn't scratch. Doesn't shatter. So pretty. I have a set of Melmac confetti-style mixing bowls that are a treasure. Once owned by my grandmother.


  2. Well... they'll shatter if enough force is applied. But yes, generally wonderfully safe. You'll have to show me the mixing bowls sometime. I've been enjoying seeing how my mother's mixing bowls (not Melmac) are invariably priced at $79 at antique malls. I also just saw her floral mending tin for sale, although at considerably less.