Chris Park’s Drive for Design

Chris Park has been working in ceramics for almost 40 years, most of it spent creating new designs. For the past 11 years, he’s been a fixture in Homer Laughlin’s custom design department.

“I originally wanted to study environmental science, but my professors at Ohio University strongly encouraged me to ‘stick with the art, kid,’” joked Chris. “They saw something in me, and that something was not an environmental scientist!”

Hailing from Cleveland, Chris was already familiar with the Ohio Valley’s reputation as a pottery hub. “Even when I got my start in the 1980s, custom dinnerware was in demand,” Chris observed. “It is something that has remained steady in my years in the business.”

Chris believes some restaurant owners view custom dinnerware as something only fine dining or theme restaurants need or can afford. He’d like to dispel the myth. 

“Custom dinnerware gives any restaurant an advantage. It’s one of those details that they might not think about, but once they see the difference, they can’t imagine how they’ve done without it. It really elevates the dining experience—any experience. It sharpens the focus of your brand and complements your food. Whatever you’re already doing, custom dinnerware intensifies it.”

Then there’s the fact that Homer Laughlin’s custom design services are free. “You pay for the dinnerware, obviously, but not for the creation of your design.”

From initial meeting to delivery, restaurant owners can expect the process to take a few months. “It’s not like ordering T-shirts off the Internet, but the time isn’t prohibitive. With our in-house 3-D printer, we’ll be able to send you a real piece of dinnerware that you can experiment with, plate food on it, make sure you’re completely happy with it. You won’t have to approve an abstract concept or a design on a piece of paper. You’ll know exactly what you’re getting.”

In his spare time, Chris enjoys a different kind of customizing—remodeling his 19th century home. “With a house this old, there’s always something to do—or remodels by previous owners to undo,” commented Chris. “Then the next owners of the house will no doubt curse my name for the work I’ve done, and the cycle will continue.”


June 2018


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