Happy Spring. The quintessential promise of the season: beginnings. It was indeed also a first of a very special kind — the first of an inspired tablescape design: the budding of a what is sure to be an enduring love affair with this Examiner’s new, Marchesa fine bone china collection for Lenox.
I first heard the siren song of this Peacock, rather Peafowl, (more on this in a bit) Lenox, “Sapphire Plume” tabletop collection at the recently-concluded, exceptionally-inspiring Architectural Digest Design Show 2016 that brimmed with craft, bespoke, quality creations for the discriminating homeowner and his or her distinctive home. The Lenox Sapphire Plume collection is a poster child for this aesthetic. georginachapmanmarchesa – (that’s Georgina Chapman) – whose refined fashion glamour pairs with the exceptional quality of America’s only maker of bone china: Lenox.
How did this star-crossed pair – meaning me and the peafowl — come to “mate?” Destiny is the short answer. The tad longer version makes the story… By way of background — after falling hard for this beauty, I did a bit more research on the peacock to learn more about why I am so passionate about it. I discovered that “peacock” is the male and “peahen” is the female, together they are peafowl. Have to get it right and respect these symbols of love, refinement, resurrection, and renewal. So it was kind of perfect that their association with resurrection landed on my table for Easter, given this holy day’s promise of redemption and rebirth. Coincidence? This Examiner is too spiritual and superstitious not to consider the karma of this plumed, peafowl landing in my home!
I have long been enchanted by this noble bird; their glamorous and iridescent blue hues, their history, and inspiration to artists throughout the ages. It’s said if one is feeling “blah,” the colors alone can put us in a mood to embrace our own nobility – encouraging us to show off our inner proud-as-a-peafowl! (AKA “proud as a peacock.”)
And just when the connections of color, season, symbols and renewal couldn’t get more cosmic, there is the discovery that the collective for peafowl is: a “party!” How perfect is that for a table-top collection tailor-made made for dining celebrations?! Just this side of nirvana when you consider what that sage Robin Williams said: “Spring is nature’s way of saying, “Let’s party!”
So, The Party Was On
After the press tour of the nearly 50 “stunning table vignettes by top designers” for the show’s annual Dining by Design, this Examiner made a rather uncharacteristic stop to peruse the items on display for DIFFA’s silent auction. But I thought to myself, ‘Let me see what’s here and I can report on it. After all it’s a fundraiser with all monies supporting the organization’s efforts to fight HIV/AIDS.’ That’s when the soft blue and white Lenox and the pattern of gentle, elegant peafowl and exotic feathers began its seduction. I know I shouldn’t have but later that night I thought, why not bid? I cringed. Not only do I love our Royal Doulton wedding china and its classic design; I had just recently added to our everyday collection with the vibrant, colorful, wild animal Palace Thai Dinnerware Collection from Williams-Sonoma. In the end, I was powerless to the pull of the peafowl, bidding more than I should have — but it was meant to be.
Things came together quickly in a good way not long after it was confirmed I had the winning bid for the Sapphire Plume china. I was keen to use the new collection for Easter, and there was only a few days to go before the holiday weekend. Nevertheless, DIFFA and ultimately, the Lenox team, rose to the occasion in splendid fashion and managed the process with elan. Thank you, Steven, Joanne, Sherri, and Karen, Nancy, Yolanda, Daryl, Effie, Stephanie- (It takes a village!). While hoping for a Friday delivery – (pushing it to Saturday if need be as a nail-biter hard stop), the Lenox team had the entire 8-piece tableware collection delivered on Thursday: one or two days after setting the process in motion. How impressive!
In no time, the individually boxed 8-piece servings out of their travel nests – and into their bath (dishwasher) and that night began musing the tablescape composition.
Because I couldn’t wait to use the Sapphire Plume china, I enjoyed a mid-morning coffee break with some fresh-from-the-bakery, hot cross buns. A truly sweet confection combination…
Entertaining Design Elements: First Steps
This Examiner approaches the beauty and imagery of creating a seasonal and themed tablescapes informed by gardens, plants, and food and drink. Details matter. So does perspective. Whimsy and elegance are critical to layering a tableau that is captivating. The special world created within a tablescape should draw guests in – delight them with an aura of discovery. Conjure a mood and a memory with lighting: natural and added such as candles, votives, sparklers and more, along with other sensual items including, objects (fine art and found nature art such as stones or pebbles or driftwood), music, flowers and plants, as well as fragrance. Table art is compelling, original, and personal. The possibilities are endless.
Think about the tablescape not just as a static thing; rather as theater, unfolding in a series of acts or chapters. The table shouldn’t be “set” just for a special event, either. Accessorize the table for everyday use. It’s important to cherish the tablescape — it’s where friends and family come together – to share not just food and drink but each other. Good tablescape design fosters convivial conversation and no small amount of joy.
Just as we add various courses throughout the entire meal; so too, check the menu and think how the elements of the table will change or unfold throughout the entire dining experience.
At the same time. the design elements shouldn’t get in the way. I’ve long been an advocate for the low vases and packed floral design. Keeping the airspace above the table free of towering urns or floral displays, to see table mates. In addition, flowers are de rigueur; however the blooms or the candles should not have a heady fragrance that interferes with the meal and its ingredients’ natural aromas.
Premiere Peafowl Table Art
The decision was made to use tulips as the flower of choice because it’s spring and they’re a classic rite of the season. I wanted it to be all about soft colors – not the jelly-bean bright blooms – rather sigh-worthy white tulips and bouquets of white with a stripe of a “Broken Tulip,” featuring a lavender color to complement the china. Plus, we’d be serving a kind of French 75 champagne cocktail with a lavender, violet liqueur. So there was a nice pairing there, too.
Reviewing the inventory of home decor accessories, the choice was two glass bowl vases with some blue glass stones in the bottom to anchor the white tulips, and three aqua blue-ish forcing vessels to use for the Broken Tulips.
Blue and white ginger jars could anchor the floral centerpieces at three points; a classic element that tipped its hat to the dishes’ visual narrative. I set small glass bunnies and one mini bunny snow globe around the center vase and the bigger glass bunnies at table ends. All the glass was reflecting the natural light – creating gleaming, light prisms.
I used two, mini, green-heart topiaries from a writing desk / secretary that added a kind of “earring charm” – meaning just enough subtle bedazzle. The place holders for the name tags are garden ornaments and topiaries with a greenish patina, in addition to using the colored, “blown-out eggs” with names etched on. Lastly, few dozen robin egg blue decorative “eggs” were scattered, er, placed, throughout the tablescape. The blue linen napkins with painted light-blue butterfly napkin holders and beaded, azalea pink/purple dragonfly for the host and hostess settings, retained the glamorous, nature mood. And the cocktail napkins repeat the blue and white ginger jar motif; with birds.
Overall, the blue hues and green shades with a whisper of lavender are redolent of a peafowl’s glorious tail feathers. Nice…
At each course, the Lenox Sapphire Plume revealed itself. All agreed that sculptured coffee cup is the sophisticated way to drink the end of meal coffee (or tea) rather than the HUGE mugs that all too often accompany a service setting.
Table Art is a wonderful way to express a personal, custom, entertaining style. Be sure to experiment and have fun. Remember, the authentic ingredient that makes it all special – whether it’s the tabletop or the menu — is love…