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MILAN — Missoni’s first tableware collection, which bows here today, is backed by Rosita Missoni’s strong passion for the home.

This story first appeared in the January 29, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

“I could set up a hotel with all the pieces I’ve gathered through the years around the world,” she quipped in an exclusive interview.

The Missoni Home tableware line is produced and distributed under a renewable, three-year license with Richard Ginori Group and will now flank the more established home furnishings collection licensed to T&J Vestor back in 1982. “I’ve wanted this collection for such a long time, but waited for the right partner,” said Missoni, who left the apparel design reins to her daughter Angela in 1997.

The line will be in stores around the world this fall. It comprises four collections: Bianconero, with black-and-white wavy and flower patterns; Jennifer, which reelaborates the Bianconero patterns in color; the marine-patterned Timoteo, with rhomboid-shaped dishes and stylized fish scales, and Margherita, the 41-piece bone china collection, with graded hues and platinum rims. Jennifer and Margherita are an homage to two of Rosita’s granddaughters, while Timoteo is the name of the Missonis’ boat. The china is completed by a selection of Hungarian, hand-blown stem glasses and a full set of cone-shaped glasses in six colors.

The brand may stand for colorful zigzags and intricate patchwork, but black- and-white patterns hold as much fascination for Missoni. “Black and white is simple and works with everything,” she said. “I also love to combine patterns — waves with flowers, for example — and hues, like black and white with color.”

The designer said she picked up a flower pattern from this spring’s ready-to-wear collection and interpreted it for the home. Missoni, however, is firm on keeping the center of the dish, where the food is positioned, white, and not signing the top of the items, so the label remains on the bottom or the back of each piece.

Missoni created exclusive shapes for the tableware, like squared-off handles for the china and the rhomboid dishes, which are made from two existing shapes at Richard Ginori.

“There is an element of exclusive craftsmanship in the bone china collection,” said Maria Carlotta Rinaldini, head of communication and marketing at Richard Ginori Group, which is listed on the Milan Stock Exchange. “Artisans manually spray the pieces and the rim is hand-painted with a platinum ring,” said Rinaldini. This collection comes in six colors: green, pink, azure, yellow, cyclamen pink, and chestnut brown.

Starting this fall, the line will be available at such U.S. retailers as Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s and Neiman Marcus, among others. Retail prices range from $11 to $27 for dishes.

The company declined to make sales projections. “We are still working on a business plan,” said Rinaldini. “We’ll wait after Macef [Milan’s furniture, home accessories and design exhibition that opens here Friday] and the exhibition in Frankfurt next month,” she said.

Missoni SpA last year recorded sales of $72.4 million, or 58 million euros. The Missoni Home division reported sales of $18.7 million, or 15 million euros.

Typical of the Missoni philosophy and style, the home collection is an extension of the family’s love of conviviality. “My house is always open. I love to have a full fridge and the table ready — but in a simple way, nothing grand,” said Missoni.