Object of Desire: Matryoshka Doll Meets Ming Vase

When Ming vase meets matryoshka doll, the result is a quirky-cool piece that’s highly collectible

Credit: Courtesy iBride, France

Courtesy iBride, France

Ming by iBride, shown in red, deconstructs into six dishes

I’ve always been enamoured with nesting dolls and boxes or bowls that nestle one inside the other, inside the other, inside the other. Like the vibrantly painted Russian matryoshka dolls that are enjoying a folksy comeback thanks to 2011’s trendy turn to nouveau boho

Thomas Paul probably started the trend when he put matryoshka motifs on melamine plates awhile back. And during a recent visit to Anthropologie, I spied a teacup bedecked with a babushka’d babe.

But what’s a nesting doll without the NEST, I ask?

I’ve also always been enamoured with all things Asian, especially painted vessels and folkloric items. So when I came across Ming, a melamine vase that deconstructs into six pieces I was smitten. It’s Ming meets matryoshka!


A Modern Ming Thing: From Collectible to Tongue-in-cheek

True Ming vases were made of porcelain during the Ming dynasty’s rule from 1368 to the mid-15th century. Which means they can be pretty pricey. Case in point: A rare Ming “moonflask” vase discovered in the U.K. is expected to fetch more than a millions pounds – that’s $1.6 Canadian – when it goes up for sale at U.K.-based Duke and Son auction house in May. I won’t be bidding on it.

And that’s one of the reasons why the lovely melamine Ming, designed by Rachel and Benoit Convers and produced by French atelier iBride, makes so much sense. It’s so accessible and smart. At first glance, the 39-cm-high curvy vase (which comes in red, white or gray) is simply an eye-catching object that would look right at home on your sideboard or mantel. Pop it open, and like cracking into a Kinder Egg, there’s a delightful surprise inside.

Ming Marries Form and Function: A Vase and Six Dishes

Ming shape-shifts easily from decorative vase to dishware set. Count ’em: two bowls, two salad bowls, one serving plate and one pot with a lid.

Each piece is a work of art in itself but unlike the matryoska dolls, the decorative work is on the inside. (Nyet blank babushka stares here, but perhaps a few dreamy gazes.)

The white Ming reveals a jade and emerald green inside emblazoned with delicate motifs such as a dragonfly alighting on a pond and Chinese lettering.

Inside the red Ming, black and red colours are reminiscent of Chinese lacquerware. A spray of flowers bedecks one bowl, and a family gathered under a tree, fawns in the background, on another.

And the dove grey Ming has earthy tones inside, each piece decorated with numbers and fauna such as a bird, lizard and butterfly.

In case you’re curious if matryoshka dolls and Ming vases are even related, consider this little piece of history: Chinese nesting boxes pre-date matryoshka dolls. In fact, the nesting doll is said to be first created by the Chinese in the late 1800s. The first Russian nesting dolls were crafted in Moscow in 1890.

Find Ming in Vancouver at Mint Interiors.