When we talk about any item, we also mention its body shape. The names are given to help describe an item precisely with just a few words. Many shape names of 3D homewares come from geometry or the natural world, for example a “double gourd”. There is no right or wrong here, but there is an old accepted convention of a language that is both professional and understood by many.
These are some of the body shapes we deal with on a daily basis.
Acorn — a shape that resembles an oak acorn; to simplify, it looks like a combination of a globular and an ovoid shape.
Amphora — typically a vessel with two handles around the neck area, the shape of the vessel is less important but it is typically an elongated baluster or a cone.
Baluster — a curved shape of the following basic profile from bottom upwards — very narrow-wide-narrow.
Barrel shape — this specifically refers to a decanter shape with the main body that looks like a coopered barrel. The sides can be slightly convex or fairly straight and panelled.
Beehive — this means in the shape of a mound or a cone, looks like an oval cut in half.
Bell — typically used in describing glass decanters and bottles of a bell shape, with a wide top, a waist and a broadly spreading base.
Boat — a classical shape that primarily refers to gravy boats and similar vessels. Basically it is a long but not very tall jug.
Bobbin — a compressed globular element; in design bobbins are typically used one on top of the other to create an attractive column. One bobbin on its own would be called a cushion.
Bombé — this is a rather flamboyant shape that comes from describing furniture with convex rounded sides; it is not completely globular nor is it a rectangle. Basically it’s a rectangle or a square that tries to explode (hence the name) into a globe.
Caryatid — a column in the shape of a woman’s figure. This elegant element comes from the ancient Greek architecture and is mainly used in candlesticks, candelabras, lamps and other homewares and furniture with decorative columns.
Cauldron — in the shape of a witches cauldron, typically a globular vessel open at the top.
Compressed — typically a globular shape flattened from top and bottom.
Conical — a shape that narrows up or down on all sides.
Cornucopia — a horn of plenty. Literally a horn shaped vessel filled with flowers and fruits. It is a symbol of abundance and fertility.
Cylinder — a straight round shape of a tall proportion.
Dome — a hemispherical shape; in homewares this is often a large and deep lid that can cover such food as cheese or an entire dish or bowl.
Double gourd — this is an interesting shape similar to the figure 8, but with a bigger bottom and a smaller top. It comes from the Oriental ceramics.
Double ogee — same as ogee shape but with an extension
Flaring — a tall shape with convex rounded sides ending with a wide and often uneven opening.
Fluted — a tall and slightly tapering shape broadening towards the top, the sides can be straight or slightly rounded (like the modern Champagne flutes).
Globular — round or globe shape.
Heavy baluster — this is an upside down version of a baluster shape, of a curved narrow-wide-very narrow form. Heavy baluster is wider at the bottom than the normal baluster shape.
Helmet shape — typically refers to jugs and creamers, it is the shape of an upside down helmet of a Greek Hoplite warrior.
Hexagonal — a shape with six sides, normally six equal sized panels.
Hourglass — a figure-8 shape, inspired by a sand timepiece or an hourglass.
Jack in the Pulpit — this shape is named after the plant Jack in the Pulpit, it is flower shaped with one side being taller than the rest.
Lobed — a shape with panelled sides or a panelled rim, but the panels are evenly rounded rather than straight.
Lozenge — a rhombus or a diamond shape on its side. Lozenge in homewares is primarily found as a decorative motif on Chinese ceramics.
Mallet shape — in the shape of a traditional wooden hammer with a large body that tapers at the base and a short and thin neck.
Melon — globular shape with lobed or sectioned sides. It is often used in descriptions of 18th and 19th century teapot shapes made of silver or porcelain.
Nelson shape — this term is used to describe a decanter shape with the body that looks like a barrel with straight panelled sides.
Newcastle pillar — glass decanter shape with vertical ribbed body and a matching stopper.
Octagonal — a shape with eight sides, normally eight equally sized panels.
Ogee shape — a particularly shaped line that curves in and out.
Onion — globular or ovoid shape with vertical grooves, often used in describing the shape of a decanter stopper.
Ovoid — this is one of the most commonly used forms. It is the shape of an egg — an oval, wide at the bottom and narrow at the top.
Pear — in the form of a pear with a rounded wide base and a narrower rounded top.
Pineapple — typically an oval or ovoid shape with a flaring top, imagine the outline of a complete pineapple fruit in profile.
Pine cone — an ovoid shape with a narrow and pointed tip.
Pyramid — a triangular shape; when used in describing a decanter, it is the same as a ship or a yacht shape. A ship decanter has a wide base to keep stable on stormy seas.
Rummer — it is a particular shape of a large wine or beer glass, German in origin, also written as roemmer.
Ruffled — a shape of any item with wavy sides or the rim, made to resemble fabric ruffles.
Sarcophagus — a tapered or a bombé shaped rectangular form on four feet, typically made to look like animal paws. It is the shape of a classical Roman sarcophagus.
Shouldered — usually an ovoid or baluster shape with a very pronounced shoulder section at the top; may even have angular shoulders.
Spreading shape — a shape similar to the pyramid but with convex sides, often used on decanters and jugs.
Tapered — a tall shape with straight lined sides gradually spreading towards the base. We also use tapered to describe shapes narrowing towards the top.
Tazza — it is an Italian name for a “cup”, describing a stem bowl, nowadays it is typically used to describe a cake platter on a stand.
Thistle — imagine an outline of a thistle shape in profile, with a globular body and a skirt.
Trefoil — a three lobed shape, looks like a stylised flower with three evenly sized petals or rounded lobes.
Triptych — this can be a panel, a mirror or a painting with three sections. Normally there will be a main panel with a hinged panel attached on either side. Triptychs are mostly associated with old icons and altar paintings and it literally means folding in three (from old Greek).
Trumpet — a tall and flaring neck typically on a vase, decanter or a wine glass.
Tulip — in the form of a head of a tulip flower.
Tumbler — a glass with slightly tapered sides, either in straight or curved lines. A classical bartender shot measure glass is a typical tumbler shape.
Waisted — a shape of a main body with a narrowing waist in the middle.