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White House to Use New Obama China During Abe Dinner

The White House displays the china set for Tuesday's State Dinner hosted by President Barack Obama for Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, in the State Dining Room of the White House, in Washington, April 27, 2015.

A hue of blue inspired by the waters of Hawaii is a prominent feature of the Obama state china service being unveiled by the White House.

President Barack Obama is a Hawaii native who returns every Christmas for vacation.

Michelle Obama's office says the first lady chose what has been dubbed “Kailua Blue” to distinguish her family's china from the red, green, blue and yellow used on more recent state services.

A fluted band of Kailua Blue, framed by a textured gold rim and a simple gold inner line, inner line, appears on all pieces of the service, except the dinner and serving plates, according to a description provided by the White House. The solid white dinner plates are edged in gold; the service plates have a wide gold rim and the presidential coat of arms at the center.

The Obama state china will be used for Tuesday's state dinner for Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

It consists of 11-piece place settings for 320 people and was being unveiled Monday at a preview for the Abe dinner.

Cost of china

The cost of the china service was not disclosed, but it was paid for from a private fund that is administered by the White House Historical Association. The state china service that then-first lady Laura Bush unveiled in January 2009 cost $493,000.

Planning for the Obama state china began in the fall of 2011 when Michelle Obama and family friend and designer Michael Smith began gathering feedback from the White House residence staff, including the chefs.

Three years ago, in the spring of 2012, Pickard China, of Antioch, Illinois, was brought in to consult on the project. The company has made dinnerware for use at the Camp David presidential retreat in Maryland and aboard Air Force One.

Michelle Obama wanted the state china service to be modern but also practical, the White House said.

Each setting includes an individual tureen that could be used for soups, salads or dessert. The tureen is a first for presidential tableware, said Betty Monkman, a former White House curator and author for the White House Historical Association.

Monkman said state china services are purchased for a variety of reasons, including a president's legacy. In some cases, they are bought to increase the number of place settings to serve more people or to replace pieces that went missing over the years or were lost to breakage and wear and tear.

“If you've seen our state dinners, we really do a lot of mixing and matching - sometimes because we really do not have enough, sometimes because we're trying to create a new modern, different, edgy kind of look,” Obama told Architectural Digest last week when the White House previewed the state china service for interior design publications. “This Kailua Blue is one of those colors that will complement some of the other pieces already in the collection in a way that's elegant, and I think it will be timeless.”