Two bowls and a mug from the 'Taika' line of tableware by iitala.

Not until I turned thirty was I faced with a need to acquire a set of my own tableware. In the decade before that I’d relied on a combination of familial hand-me-downs and whatever I found in the kitchens of the furnished accommodation I rented. These would on occasion have to be supplemented by additional purchases, but only ever of individual items, or pairs of them: a new mug here; a couple of plates there. On first setting up home with my then-fiancée in early 1999, however, a full and matching complement of plates and bowls was called for. IKEA provided them: from something resembling their current Färgklar line in off-white with a matt finish.

A few years later, after we’d moved to Sweden, the IKEA crockery was pushed to the back of our cupboards when we acquired a further, slightly better-quality set, in plain deep blue-glazed stoneware, from Höganäs Keramik. This gave us seven or so years of daily use, until, one day in our last year in Scandinavia, some decorated plates caught my eye in one of Karlskrona’s homeware shops: the Taika series by the Finnish company Iitala. We bought a set in the blue colourway, and these, with some remainders of the Höganäs set, accompanied us back to the UK in 2009.

Fifteen years on, I’m still using and enjoying these plates, bowls and mugs every day. Three pieces from the set are shown above, showing the two stylized owl decorations and the other creature (is it supposed to be a fox?) that appear in various configurations on each item. A few of the pieces have broken over time, but the rate of attrition has been low & slow enough that it could easily be another decade before I need to think about getting any additional dinnerware.