- Design Inspo
Utilitarian, sure—but these items are also display worthy
Roxanne Robinson Dec 27, 2021
One of the most charming and satisfying aspects of the traditional American diner experience is sliding into the booth and finding the trusty diner-style, stainless-steel napkin dispenser at your table. (Though, finding a mini jukebox can be equally gratifying.) This simple pedestrian item is a design marvel of both form and function, featuring sleek lines on the exterior and an internal spring mechanism to dispense and hold the paper serviettes uniformly. That said, perhaps your taste or napkin style deems something else necessary. In that case, Nest Casa has sourced the 17 best napkin holders.
Formal dining still calls for cloth napkins. However, day-to-day meals and snacks are generally enjoyed with paper napkins. These may seem like a modern invention: It’s understood that Scott, once the world’s largest manufacturer of sanitary tissue products, began making them a household item in the 1930s. But the origins were earlier. In ancient China, paper napkins called chih pha were used in tea serving.
A millennium later, Emily Post gave paper napkins the green light when she suggested their use for breakfast meals. Cocktail culture wouldn’t be complete without the small, square paper napkins for condensation. Did we mention their storied role as the birthplace of great ideas and budding relationships? Business plans and phone numbers are often exchanged on these unsuspecting paper products.
With both a necessity and desire for this useful paper cloth, a place to store and display them is also in order. It also allows another avenue for expressing one’s style. Whether new or vintage, there is something for everyone.
1. Mario Luca Giusti Acrylic Napkin Holder
Mario Luca Giusti
Acrylic Napkin Holder
$215.00 BUY NOW
Acrylic has been making its way into the trendiest homes. Just witness the creations of king of acrylic glassware Mario Luca Giusti, whose square napkin holder dish keeps napkins neatly in place with a decorative, filigree-style edge dispenser.
2. Rudi Rabitti Cannolo Napkin Holder Black
Cannolo Napkin Holder Black
$58.00 Buy Now
Whether it’s a cannoli or a pasta shell, the Italians love a tubular shape to tuck delicious goodies into. The Cannolo napkin holder in black leather from Rabitti recalls the traditional dessert shell. Though, in this case, it is filled with napkins and not sweet cream custard.
3. Michael Aram Olive Branch Vertical Napkin Holder
Michael Aram looks to the natural world for his inspiration for household décor items. Here, he combines a brass-plated olive branch motif with a black granite base. Pair it with black paper napkins for extra drama.
4. Le Cadeaux Sorrento Napkin Holder & Napkins Gift Set
Dreading giving even one more scented candle as a host or hostess gift? Le Cadeaux has a fresh solution just in time for summer soirées. Their Sorrento napkin holder and napkin gift set checks the “best coordination” box: the cheerful, yellow and blue pattern is based on the ceramic tiles prevalent in the Neapolitan coastal town.
5. Mepra Napkin Holder
The Mepra stainless-steel napkin holder plays upon the principles of those diner napkin holders while taking it to the next level. With a sleek, almost mechanical look, a center bar bears a functional lever that holds both cloth and paper napkin solidly in place.
6. Marricreo White Square Napkin Holder
Life on the high seas requires all sorts of anchoring both above and below board to keep things in place. You don’t have to be the sea-faring type to enjoy this nautical-inspired napkin holder by Marricreo. The leather box is trimmed in rope and bears a sail snap hook (which is attached to a leather strap) to keep napkins from sailing off into the sky or beyond at your next outdoor function.
7. Serena & Lily Atelier Napkin Holder
The Atelier napkin tray is the distinguished gent among the crowd. In a rich, pebbled, cream-colored leather, the neat box features a thin bar to ensure that napkins stay in their place.
8. Frederick Arndt Artworks Walnut Napkin Holder
In the classic upright configuration, this napkin holder recalls the Prairie style architecture made famous by Frank Lloyd Wright. Frederick Arndt Artworks uses laser cutting for this wooden napkin holder, which is equally accommodating to both paper and folded cloth napkins.
9. Marricreo Blue Oval Napkin/Toast Tray
Marricreo designs for the boating life, where multi-functional items are in demand due to limited onboard storage. So, it’s not surprising that this blue leather, oval-shaped dish is made to hold both napkins and toast, depending on need. The metal insert in the center easily flips position, either to provide slots for bread or an open cradle for napkins.
10. Frederick Arndt Artworks Napkin Holder
Frederick Arndt Artworks draws inspiration from more than Prairie style for his detailed, cut wood décor items. Here, he looks to the mid-century modern design movement for this walnut wood napkin holder. It bears two pegs on which a detailed wood disc sits, holding napkins in place.
11. Serena & Lily Braided Napkin Holder
Simple woven seagrass creates this basket-style napkin perfect for outdoor dining. Pair it with colorful decorative napkins for an added punch.
12. Anthropologie Cocktail Napkin Tray
This clever little box secretly disguises your napkin supply. Made from woven abaca and leather, the Voru cocktail napkin holder gives a tropical mood to any bar—it doesn’t matter if sand and ocean are even in sight.
Vintage Napkin Holders
13. Italian Postmodern Acrylic Napkin Holder by Designer Rede Guzzini
Italian Postmodern Acrylic Napkin Holder
$975.00 BUY NOW
Italian postmodernism is on display in this acrylic napkin holder. A clear plastic holder made by Rede Guzzini cradles standard-sized napkins and complements whatever modern vibe your kitchen has.
14. Chairish Vintage Guzzini Napkin Holder
Rede Guzzini also offers the look in a solid white napkin holder, too. This acrylic one features a transparent cover to keep clean napkins free from dust or food splatter.
15. 1stDIBS Vintage Letter Holder, Napkin Holder of Metal with Wood
Made to mimic a magazine rack, this vintage envelope holder has a few tricks. The metal and wood design can hold napkins as artfully as it can envelopes.
16. Mid 20th Century Brass Bamboo Letter/Napkin Holder
Considering that people receive less and less physical mail, it’s no wonder this letter holder is doubling as a napkin holder. Made from brass in a bamboo style, this mid-century design piece is a great addition to any table.
17. One Kings Lane Dinner Napkin Tray
This antique napkin holder is the perfect solution for where to place cloth napkins when they’re not in use. Its traditional stylings also make it a perfect tray to hold perfume and other cosmetics in.
Roxanne Robinson is an award-winning Paris-based American journalist covering luxury and fashion industries with over 25 years of experience. I spent over 18 years at WWD, covering sportswear, accessories and fine jewelry. My career witnessed the shift from print media to the digital age. I gained expert knowledge of the design world, wholesale and retail markets as well as the marketing that supports them. I met endless creatives and business people who create luxury from inception to POS with the consumer. My work has appeared in Forbes.com, BoF, The Hollywood Reporter, CRFashionbook.com, The Jewelry Journal as well in-house publications and websites at Bally, Pomellato, Au Depart and Editorialist.com among others.
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