Tableware is an important feature in fine dining as part of the diner’s first point of visual contact. The way each piece is selected and presented makes for a great first impression — crucial in setting the tone for the rest of the course.
But in many Michelin-starred and acclaimed fine dining establishments across the globe, the choice of tableware is typically associated with flat pieces of monotonous plates – mostly in white. While this allows the dishes to be plated with elegance and sophistication, tableware remains secondary.
Global brands have noticed the lack of creativity in the art of tableware and replied with pieces that feature darker colours, textures and a good sense of geometry. Nothing has been fluid and organic so far.
And here’s where the Infini Collection by Ruyi comes in – to fill up a void in the fine dining scene with its unique aesthetics in ceramics that are presented in the most sophisticated way.
“Chinese cuisines are symbolic to celebrations, lavishness and feeling auspicious. We want to create something that celebrates the beauty in fluidity, and at the same time reflects the distinct philosophies of ancient China, something that we find missing in the modern dining scene. Just as how the French have Hermes and Japanese with Noritake, I couldn’t find something that belongs to the Chinese,” reveals Desmond Chang, Founder of Ruyi.
The Infini collection — the world’s first modern luxury tableware designed for Modern cuisine, stemming from oriental philosophy — was unveiled for the first time at a special four-hands collaboration between Michelin starred Chef Vicky Cheng of Vea Hong Kong and Chef Lanshu Chen of Le Moût Taiwan — Asia’s Best Female Chef of 2014. The collaborative dining took place at both the chefs’ respective restaurants across two cities last month.
Ruyi started with an experiential event aspiring to help educate regional chefs and gourmands about the aesthetics of Chinese cuisine and tableware. Chang shares: “The Ruyi Gastronomy has received encouraging responses over the years. And along with that, I’ve also gleaned a deeper understanding of Chinese culture throughout the dynasties. That’s why I feel we are finally ready to unveil the Ruyi standalone collection to the world.”
The brand is an extension of Chang’s family business that revolves around the different facets of tableware-making. Chang’s involvement in the tableware industry has been nothing but prominent under the brand Legle, a purveyor of the most-lauded porcelains catered to luxury hotels, restaurants and super yachts across the world.
Looking into the ergonomics of each plate and bowl, Chang has spent over a decade working on the realisation of these pieces. “The inspiration doesn’t come overnight. I’ve been working closely with a London-based Chinese designer on my idea sketches and prototyped them with our artisans across Asia,” shares Chang. “These processes require a lot of patience.”
The Infini collection latches closely on the binary forces of Qi – ‘yin and yang’ – that encapsulate fluidity, freedom and energy. It is both feminine and masculine, featuring sensual curves and sheer tactility that is juxtaposed with the strong and solid properties of the materials. Among the standout features include the majestic indigo finish from the Song Dynasty and high-gloss stone glaze in shades of olive and copper; both with an elegant touch of gold accents on the rims.
“As a cuisinier, your artistry relies on your food but the artistry will never work without the art of ceramics. The harmony between food and tableware is an eternal relationship that has been there since the Qin dynasty, some 2,000 years ago,” explains Chang.
Each piece from the collection allows for greater freedom of choice in food styling and presentation. This homage to constant movement and spontaneity is set to bring complete balance to the plate and palate. Rims and shapes are designed in an organic, freeform style to exhibit a sense of fluidity and energy akin to the natural life force.
A balanced composition in a poetic story translated on the plate is something Ruyi strives to achieve. It works both ways.
“It is an exciting collaboration between not only Chef Lanshu and me, but also with Ruyi’s Infini Collection. The pieces are so elegant, curvy and delicate. I’ve chosen to let the ingredients shine, not only highlighting the food, but also the beauty of the plates,” expresses Chef Vicky after the full service as he pinpoints on a particular seafood dish that is inspired entirely by Infini gold, a white low serving bowl with gilded gold rim.
Chef Lanshu concurs that the organic shapes can inspire chefs easily. “Its dancing contours and various textures echo the spirit of nature. For me, creating a dish is something infinite and free,” confides the chef.
The Infini Collection is part one to a quadrilogy of tableware series inspired by the different Chinese dynasties.
Images courtesy of Ruyi