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In her 2015 book Bowl + Spoon, food and wellness writer Sara Forte put the joy of one-pot eating centre-stage. And thanks to the simultaneous mainstreaming of foodie culture and design appreciation, the plates and bowls that food is eaten on are becoming almost as important as the food itself.

Instagram’s obsession with the bowl may have begun in 2015 with the 'power bowl', but the desire to display food in beautiful receptacles shows no sign of letting up; #smoothiebowl brings up over 642,000 images alone. “The bowl is like the t-shirt of the crockery market,” says Carla Busazi, global chief content officer at WSGN. “In a day and age when we’re always clutching our smartphones, it’s very easy just to have a bowl in the other hand.”

And thanks to amateur food photographers, crockery ranges are expanding rapidly, with brands like Typhoon and Crow Canyon Home reaping the rewards. “Restaurants are thinking really carefully about what they put their food on and how that's going to photograph as well," says Anna Kibbey, co-founder of 2Forks. "But also anyone that uses social media or takes pictures of their own food is thinking about presentation.

Bowls fit for a true foodie Bowls fit for a true foodie
Yelp Inc. (2014) ©

Some restaurants are already experimenting with crockery combos, just as much as flavour. The plate-less trend, for instance, has trickled down from high-end dining to high-street restaurants across the UK. Some are taking it further than simple slabs of wood; think chips served in mini-trolleys or salads on trowels. And it’s not going down well with all diners. We Want Plates – with over 115,000 Twitter followers – is a crusade against this, shaming restaurateurs' outrageous offerings and fighting for a return to traditional crockery.

But in line with all food trends, keeping up appearances is just one part of a broader shift. “In restaurants, and also at dinner parties, it’s common for people to turn over the plate to see if it's made in England,” says Kibbey. “People are as interested in the provenance of tableware as they are in the food. If you have a bowl that is made by a potter in Hackney, that’s as good as getting foraged gooseberries in Hackney Marshes.” As people grow more discerning about the food, it makes sense that what it's in will draw attention, too.

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Jo Allison is Canvas8’s editor. Previously, she worked for retail trends consultancy GDR where shopping was part of the job description. When she’s not getting her head around the quirks of human behaviour, she’s busy ‘researching’ the latest food or fitness fad.

23 Nov 16
3 min read

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