In home kitchens, certain tools are so ubiquitous, and so purely, cleanly functional and timeless, that we take them for granted. Glass canning jars with lids that clip to make an air-tight seal, a no-frills stainless steel vegetable peeler. A set of nested mixing bowls—lipped on one side of the rim, with a flat handle for clutching on the other—are top of this list. What's a hard-working kitchen without them?
And as with any design that's somehow transcended trend (and then of course been mimicked and mass produced at lesser value along the way), the iconic trio of nested plastic mixing bowls have a name behind them: Rosti Mepal.
In the early 1950's, a company called Rosti Denmark called on local designers Sigvard Bernadotte and Acton Bjørn to design a set of timeless, high-quality, high-functioning mixing bowls in melamine. Their winning design was considered so excellent that the company asked royal permission to name them after Princess Margrethe, who is now the Queen of Denmark—and she said yes.
Sixty-some years, one ID Prize from the Danish Design Council for industrial design of lasting value, a company merger, and a place in MoMA's Permanent Collection later, Rosti Mepal's Margrethe bowls resemble their original versions pretty exactly. Only a non-skid ring was added to the bowl's base shortly after they hit the market. (What isn't broken need not be updated and updated and updated, as they say.)
Just as lasting as the design of the bowls? The bowls themselves. The set pictured below is thirty years old—thirty!—and not lightly used.
These bowls belong to Brenna Goldberg, who works in sales for Rosti Mepal. She registered for them when she got married 31 years ago and has been using them regularly ever since—and kindly lent them to us for a snapshot when we heard how well they'd held up.
Plastic isn't something you think of as lasting, but melamine is different—it's so mighty and rock-solid it almost resembles a different material altogether. The pair above show no warping, chipping, or obvious scratching at all—and the larger of the two isn't even remotely discolored. Clearly, these aren't your average plastic mixing bowls.
Here are five more reasons why we love them.