“Piling up, you do with junk. Stacking, you can only do with design,” Massimo Vignelli, the designer best known for having created the identities of the New York City Transit Authority, Guggenheim Museum and American Airlines, told Edible Manhattan in regards to his 1965 melamine dinnerware set. Vignelli’s stackable plastic tableware — known today as Hellerware, named for the manufacturer that introduced the collection to the U.S. — adheres to many central tenets of good design: affordability, durability, democracy, function.
It’s unbreakable, dishwasher-safe and outdoor-friendly, iconic in its practical utility and pared-down design. While the stackable dinnerware was first produced in a canary yellow hue and remains available in a rainbow of colors (with vintage sets listed on eBay and Etsy), the pure white option feeds today’s hunger for minimalist design met with maximal utility.