As I have mentioned in other articles, I am not typically a fan of monograms. Unless… there is something unusual and interesting about them. I want to introduce you to Cindy Nouri, whose product line repeatedly caught my eye on social media. She is a historian of typography and of monograms, with a fascinating background in porcelain and gold- would you believe- via DENTISTRY. She now applies her expertise in these elements to a bigger “canvas”, creating beautiful custom dinnerware for her company Sasha Nicholas, named for her two children. Cindy’s professional journey might inspire us all to take our dreams seriously and follow our passions.
Cindy studied at St. Peter’s College, Oxford. While there, she travelled to Staffordshire to visit porcelain factories and shopped the Oxford outdoor market, training her eye and learning the history of fine china. To this day she continues to visit fine porcelain factories, markets and stores on her travels, forever fine tuning her education (such as faience classes in Umbria), often bringing treasures home with her. Upon returning from Oxford, she further pursued the details of dinnerware with courses in surface pattern design and calligraphy, which suggests that she had found her calling by this point. It might appear that she veered off course to enter dental school a year later and practice full-time until 2014, but hold that thought.
Let’s talk materials, and how dentistry led to Sasha Nicholas
This is where her story gets fascinating. I hope I’m not stepping out of line to throw out there that perhaps her successful dental career was hands-on preparation for greater things to come. This “materials girl” did what dentists do- she mastered the physics and chemistry of dental materials – namely, gold and porcelain. Are you following where this is headed? The material expert knew the difference between variations and processes of gold and porcelain. Are you ready for this? Her gold resource for her dinnerware designs is none other than the same manufacturer she used in her dentistry practice.
Sasha Nicholas Clearly has a way with monograms…and of course there is a story behind that.
Another life long interest is typography and fonts. Cindy, ever the researcher, explored the history of monograms, and how designs and protocol have evolved to retain their relevancy. She shares some of her findings here:
- Monograms were originally used on coins as long ago as 356 BC.
- Most royalty, such as Charlemagne, could not write so employed calligraphers to design monograms for them to use as a signature and on coins.
- Three letter monograms did not come into vogue until the 18th century. They did not become decorative until the Victorian era.
- The “Duogram” which is a recent addition, is most often used by our registry clients-the first letter of the bride on the left, groom on the right, and last name initial in the middle. Royal protocol is to use the first letter of each of the couples’ names with the senior person’s first. This posed an issue for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge as theirs would have been WC – which stands for water closet – or restroom – in Great Britain. For the first time in royal history William and Catherine broke the royal monogram tradition and chose CW as their monogram.
I encourage people to choose the designs that are the most meaningful and beautiful to them regardless of what others see as “correct”. The major reasons why monograms were originally invented are the reasons they are still in use today-of their simplicity, their beauty, and their individual meaning. -Cindy Nouri, Sasha Nicholas
Sasha Nicholas products are a result of many disciplines and talents, executed with a serious attention to detail. Her thoughtfulness extends to a very custom level of service offering 6 monogram options that are hand illustrated along with five monograms color options (Black, Navy, Raspberry, Green and Light blue), currently on two lines of European porcelain dinnerware and serve ware. The Imagine line is a Scandinavian coup and the Weave line, a classic basketweave. See below:
In addition, Sasha Nicholas offers custom monogram and crest design services and often adapt customers’ own custom monograms or crests into designs for their dinnerware. Whoa!
We thoroughly enjoy the process of designing intimate and beautiful one of a kind dinnerware patterns just for our customers who choose our fully custom design services. -Cindy Nouri, Sasha Nicholas
Her observations of her buyer demographic is interesting. Millennials aren’t as interested in ownership of a lot of things but rather carefully curated belongings that have meaning to them and connect others to them and also have longevity. The baby boomer customers are into simplifying as well. They want a simple elegant lifestyle that allows them to enjoy moments, people, and their free time. Practically speaking, these pieces mix well with other patterns and fine china, which is an added bonus for those who are building a collection or are creative with what they already own.
In addition, there is a cultural return to caring about where our food comes from and what some refer to as “mindful eating”-which includes the art of food presentation. Sasha Nicholas clients love the fact that their food is the vista when it is on their dinnerware.
[Tweet “White porcelain dinnerware is the LBD of a table setting.”]
This brings up a unique feature of Sasha Nicholas dinnerware, the custom message on back which is again oven and dishwasher safe. The dinner plates, chargers, serving platters, and tureens offer an inscription on back/bottom. Customers choose anything from their name and wedding date to personal messages, poetry, religious, inspirational or literary quotes.
Any heartfelt occasion is appropriate for a meaningful gift.
Sasha Nicholas is launching a new twist on this feature for Fall 2015, the handwritten inscription on back. They truly are on a mission to make dinnerware and our daily lives more meaningful.
Here is the best news of all. I hope you are sitting down:
Unfortunately, many of the popular dinnerware lines are made of materials that look beautiful but after a few years of use they become scratched and chipped which is really unfortunate. It is very important to understand that porcelain and bone china are THE most durable ceramic materials on the market. People see them as delicate but they are very durable. Cindy could even show us a hand painted gold-rimmed piece of bone china that has never left the bottom rack of a dishwasher for 10 years -yes – she is even a hands on researcher. I’m sold, are you? Pull out the good stuff, buy the good stuff, and enjoy it every single day. What are we waiting for?!
The main reason to have a dinner party is to connect and create great memories of that connection. We find that our dinnerware serves as a way to get some great conversations and stories going-it’s surprising how wide and deep the well of inspiration is-and the laughter!!! We’ve had some pretty hilarious ideas as themes for our dinnerware over a meal or two. -Cindy Nouri, Sasha Nicholas
The most amazing takeaway was that there is absolutely no reason on earth not to use your fine dinnerware daily, and add lots of Sasha Nicholas to it! It will most likely hold up better than your casual pattern, which you could well be bored to death of. I mean REALLY, what on earth are we saving the good stuff for? Pull it out and start enjoying it every day. I sure did. It might just inspire you to follow your dreams and pursue your passions. Bring it on! Shop her stunning product through the two links below:
SHOP Sasha Nicholas dinnerware
If you love a good monogram, you might enjoy these articles on