by Joe Henry | September 26, 2016
A new generation of whiskey sippers, craft beer drinkers, and foodies has inspired a surge of creativity in glassware and china products.

For certain products, like toasting flutes or cocktail glasses, creativity comes with an infusion of color. Consider Waterford's Lismore Pops collection, which features Waterford's classic pattern but with an added burst of either emerald, cobalt, purple, pink, or aqua.

Colors are big in the glassware category in general. Jeffrey Brenner, VP of sales at Pelucida -- which produces artisanal glass awards -- said that people want to see more artistry in their glass products.

"We're seeing a lot of people getting away from that classic traditional square, star, triangle, rectangle piece that just sits on the shelf and become a dust collector," Brenner said, noting the variety of glass shapes and colors offered by Pelucida's craftsmen. "They want something that's more unique and special, that speaks more to the reason for the recognition."

Of course, color isn't appropriate for every occasion -- like when you're in your smoking jacket, sipping a hard-to-find Pappy Van Winkle bourbon. But whiskey glasses are also beginning to innovate.

"With millennials, whiskey is big-big-big," said Maria Caputo, senior account executive at Waterford Wedgwood Royal Doulton. Among her most coveted are the Marquis line of whiskey tumblers and decanters, etched with a distinct cross-hatch called the Brady pattern.

Or one can turn to Orrefors Kosta Boda's Street line of whiskey glasses, with a bold, hand-cut pattern that recalls Manhattan's gridded layout. Kara Hoover, program manager at Spear One, noted that these glasses even made an appearance on the Netflix show House of Cards.

Other whiskey glass offerings focus more on fun than formality. Sagaform sells rocking whiskey glasses with rounded bases allowing them to tip without spilling, and a set of shot glasses with X's and O's to create a tic tac toe drinking game. 

Of course, for some people, simplicity is a better aesthetic fit. Nambé's glassware is less about intricate patterns and more about creating fluid shapes that flow with modern architectural sensibilities. Consider the unusual angles of its Tilt whiskey glasses, or the curves of its Moderne line of bowls and pitchers. 

Wine drinkers can also be quite serious, and with wine as with whiskey, the shape of the glass has a great influence on the aroma and taste of the vintage. Riedel Crystal of America's varietal specific glasses are not just for serious oenophiles. In fact, if you are a Cabernet or Pinot Noir fan, the shape of the glass is notably different, and it really does make a difference the average fan of good wine can appreciate. 

But while glassware is often meant to be ornamental, china and flatware is a little more staid. Eric Anderson, director of sales at PMC/Almo, sells 16-piece dinnerware sets from Cuisinart, in 12 different patterns.

"We try to be a little flashy, but still appeal to a wider audience," Anderson said. "We try to stay away from the wilder or gaudier look."

The same is true for Waterford's lines of dinnerware. When it comes to dining, the focus is on the food, not the plates, Caputo said. However, branded dinnerware lines -- those with the imprimatur of celebrities like chef Gordon Ramsay or designer Vera Wang -- have become immensely popular.