Dinnerware Discovery

If you enjoy hosting dinner parties, you may be able to relate to my obsession with dinnerware. I currently have 5 sets in my collection. Yes, FIVE. Stop judging. While everyone should have a neutral set of dishes for everyday use, I often find that I want to fit a particular mood, season or occasion with a fun color or pattern when entertaining.

One of my favorite sets is the Franciscan Discovery collection. This line was introduced by the Interpace Corporation in New Jersey in 1965. They offered 9 patterns in the Discovery line -- the most popular being Tahiti, Terra Cotta and Topaz. The Topaz pattern (shown here) is vibrant, warm and playful. The warm, rich mustard color and subtle leaf pattern fit any occasion from Easter to Thanksgiving, and the varying glaze really highlights the unique beauty achieved in fired ceramics.

Many innovations in glazing methods were underway at Interpace in the mid-'60s to early-'70s. Designers were working closely with California-based artists to create not only unique dinnerware patterns, but also some beautiful and elaborate wall murals. One of my favorite ties to Interpace is the mural in the Contemporary Resort in Walt Disney World, Orlando. This mural is made of Interpace tile, and was designed by Mary Blair -- the legendary Disney artist who produced designs for "it's a small world", Cinderella, and Alice in Wonderland. Her bold, geometric approach to illustration pairs naturally with tile design, which truly shines in this larger than life application. The resort mural soars to 90 feet, and wraps around all 4 sides of the tower! I was lucky enough to see the mural in-person on a recent business trip to Orlando. I've always wanted to see this work of art in-person, and it did not disappoint. Riding the monorail through the Contemporary Resort to get to the mural was also a highlight.


Originally, a 16-piece Franciscan Discovery starter set sold for $29.95, and the full 45-piece collection with service for 8 was $100. Those prices have gone up significantly since 1965, but I've found most of my collection via online auctions and antique stores across the country. While Topaz may not be for everyone, it is one of those patterns that you can easily use as everyday dinnerware or dress up for special occasions. Whether I am serving a light breakfast for myself, an appetizer buffet for a small group, or a formal dinner for 8, this set is my go-to set that brings a splash of color with iconic '60s style to the table.