Bowled Over

Landscape architect Gregory Lombardi, principal of the eponymous Cambridge firm, shares the story behind a precious heirloom.

Gregory Lombardi

Kensington Ware Centerpiece Bowl


Photograph by Nina Gallant

Growing up in Pittsburgh, Gregory Lombardi spent a lot of time with his grandparents Catherine and Dan, who routinely hosted their large, Italian-American family at home-cooked meals and holiday celebrations. And always, at the center of their dining table, was this 1934 Kensington Ware bowl. “It became kind of iconic,” Gregory says of the aluminum-and-glass vessel. Catherine, he adds, was a thoughtful homemaker with a knack for “making places meaningful and beautiful.”

Although Gregory’s uncle inherited the serving piece after Catherine died at the age of 94, Gregory’s mother knew how much her son had admired it. So one Christmas, she gifted him a duplicate, which she’d tracked down and purchased through a dealer. Today, when Gregory looks at the bowl, which now graces the center of his own dining room table, he remembers not only his grandmother and those special family meals, but his mother, who passed away last year. “For that, I cherish it,” he says. “There are so many layers to it now.”