Last Sunday, I — along with colleagues from Grub Street and hundreds of others — spent a rainy morning at the debut location of the city’s newest grocery chain, Wegmans. In the two hours I roamed its aisles, I witnessed the fervor and community among customers and employees that many say is what sets the grocery store apart. I also saw a lot of stuff: most of it either your standard supermarket fare and brands or things made by Wegmans, like its fresh chocolate-chip cookies (which have their own Reddit thread) or bountiful meat-and-cheese plates that made me want to plan a party just so I could have a reason to go back and buy one.
Being the “upscale” grocer that it is, Wegmans also has a selection of kitchen tools and other nonfood products for the home. Among them are some paper napkins decorated with scenes and patterns made by a company called Caspari. The prints genuinely looked like ones that places like Kaas GlassWorks or John Derian would use to make a fancy decoupage tray. I left with some autumnal napkins sporting an intricately painted turkey surrounded by acorns (my husband and I are hosting Thanksgiving) and, not being familiar with the brand, did some Googling when I got home.
Some may laugh at the thought of “museum quality” napkins, but the term isn’t that far-fetched here. Caspari, which has been in the paper-napkin business for some 70 years, produces some napkins in partnership with cultural institutions like Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts and others with heritage luxury-décor brands like Scalamandré. While MyDrap napkins are stylish for their minimalism, Caspari’s — which are not linen but a sturdy “triple ply” tissue — are for making a visual statement. Were it not for small, telling details like those little dots paper napkins have around the edges, you could honestly stick one in a frame and pass it off as art (albeit cheap but expensive-looking art). While they may be cheap for art, they’re not the cheapest napkins — but if you’re hosting a party or holiday meal, one set will go a long way toward completing your table décor. And for the right super-specific person, a pack could even make a nice host or hostess gift. Best of all: You don’t have to go to Wegmans to get them, as many of the brand’s most interesting napkins — including 12 of my favorites, below — are sold online.
These blue-and-white chinoiserie-style napkins look a lot like Blue Willow china. A note: All of the napkins come in various sizes. Cocktail is the smallest, luncheon is slightly larger, and dinner is the largest; if you like any on this list but want something bigger or smaller, be sure to click the link to see what other sizes are available.
A painterly print that feels very de Kooning.
These napkins, which Caspari produced with artist Lulu de Kwiatkowski, recall the color-study prints made by the Cut’s former Instagram editor Emily Sundberg (which two different friends of mine now have hanging in their apartments).
These moody floral napkins were produced from a print by the London-based Collier Campbell studio, which has worked with blue-chip fashion brands like Liberty and Saint Laurent. If you don’t like the black, these also come in a white background.
Perfect for a Christmas-dinner table, the print on these was inspired by Scottish tartans (and, to the naked eye, kind of looks like real fabric).
Another eye-catching chinoiserie set.
Produced with the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, these bear a replica of The Great Wave off Kanagawa, the famous woodblock print that Japanese artist Hokusai created in the mid-19th century.
Finally, the set I bought for our Thanksgiving table. It’s a collaboration with artist Pamela Gladding, who Caspari says looks to her “garden as well as the birds, and bees, that visit” for inspiration.
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