Handcrafted ceramic plates for every state in the Union

By Brandy Gonsoulin

The fall season has finally arrived, which means it’s time to take the party inside. But instead of pulling out the same old tried-and-true tins and plates this year, why not put a fun twist on nostalgia and make those dishes from your childhood in the shape of your home state? How about an apple pie shaped like the state of New York, or a California-shaped guacamole spread for your next party? You can make these and more with custom “handufactured” State Plates from Corbé, a ceramic design studio in Detroit.

Run by husband and wife team Kaitlyn and Ryan Lawless, Corbé specializes in porcelain-wares for hands, homes, and kitchens, using a combination of new technology and old-world handcrafting techniques. Corbe’s flagship line of signature custom state plates, the Fifty United Plates collection, pays tribute to “where you are, what you’re making, doing, eating, loving, and living.” The Lawless’ also offer other one-of-a-kind ceramics, like hand-thrown porcelain mugs inspired by Lake Charlevoix in Michigan, Canteen vases–inspired by the timeless field vessel—that make for great modern centerpieces, and even hand-forged, porcelain jewelry. Corbe’s wares are available online, at retailers across the country, or right out of their Detroit studio. Each piece is made by hand and—most importantly—with love.

Tasty tidbits
  • The Lawless’ originally established the company on Orcas Island, Washington in 2012 but returned to the Midwest in 2015.
  • "Corbé" means "raven" in Old French—which explains the feather in their logo—and is a resurrection of sorts for a lost family name.
  • The original idea for the State Plates emerged around a table with friends in rural Wisconsin, over hard-earned meals cooked the long way—and much wine and laughter. Setting out to capture the sentiment of the people, the place, and the bounty they were so grateful for, the Lawless’ came up with the first State Plate, in the shape of Wisconsin.
  • The State Plates have been featured in HGTV Magazine, the New York Times, and Bon Appétit.

A Table for 50?

In 2013, the Lawless’ took their State Plate collection one step further and launched a successful Kickstarter campaign to help them create an seven-foot by four-foot map of the United States made entirely of interlocking porcelain State Plates. Upon completion, they plan to have a dinner party with a representative dish from each state. The Fifty United Plates will then go from table to gallery as an exhibition piece to pay tribute to crafting and small-scale American manufacturing.
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