SQ.WARE is a system of dinnerware based on the way we live now.

Once upon a time, Mom stayed home to cook the evening meal, which was served at the dining room table just as Dad got home. Now meals are ordered in, reheated, microwaved or assembled from leftovers. Mom works the same hours as Dad, singles eat prepared foods more often than preparing food themselves, young couples have “order-in” dinner parties, storage space is precious, and kids make their own meals.

Addressing today’s needs, SQ.WARE has been designed to move from the fridge to the microwave to the dinner (or coffee) table to the dishwasher. The pieces combine storage, preparation, and service all in one container. It is at home on the table, in front of the TV, in the microwave, oven, or refrigerator.

Pieces are compact, stackable, and self-lidding: plates do double duty as serving pieces and covers, to store in the refrigerator and reheat in the microwave. The square, stackable forms efficiently utilize space, and each piece has a handle, which aids in pulling stacked pieces from each other and holding dishes when bottoms are hot.

The design was inspired by mid-century dinnerware. Valuable precedents exist for recognition of the modern lifestyle, yet they ironically date from decades ago. The Kubus system of modular glass storage containers designed by Wilhelm Wagenfeld were produced in Germany in 1938. Here in America, early refrigerator containers, some featuring the GE logo and included with the purchase of a new appliance, others produced in candy colors by Pyrex, were the functional precursors of Tupperware.

SQ.WARE expands on these by adapting the simplicity and elegance of traditional dinnerware to contemporary ideas of utility and convenience. Eating on the go – prepared foods from the fridge, take-out in front of the TV – can be messy, with gooey plastic wrap and greasy paper containers. SQ.WARE brings some order to these meals, making them more pleasant, quick and easy. It responds to the way we live today.

The system is being produced by Umbra, with the first pieces introduced to stores in August 2001.