It’s May 17th and if you’re anything like us you’ll be feeling pretty rusty on the hosting front. Luckily, we’ve teamed up with tablescaper, tastemaker and hostess-with-the-mostess Hannah Perse-Cottle, Lead Creative at Liberty and founder of @objects.duh to show us how to throw the perfect dinner soireé.
A: Hey Hannah, can you tell me a little about yourself and about your beautiful Instagram @objects.duh?
H: I’m a creative, stylist and visual merchandiser and like many, was working less last year so got to thinking about what else I could do during lockdown. So I started @objects.duh as a way to keep up my creative energy, collaborate with local independent businesses and create a live portfolio of my work.
A: Meanwhile, I made some banana bread. So tell us, what exactly is a tablescape?
H: Tablescaping is the art of laying a table - building a landscape that is inspiring and unique to that event. Over the last few years it has become more and more popular.
STEP 1: Table Linen & Tableware
Table linen is like the canvas of an artwork - a base for you to layer upon. Print is a big trend right now, however, I’m more of a minimalist so tend to opt for block colours. My current favourite is this natural linen as it’s warmer than a classic white - although in lockdown I got super into natural dye and making tie dye table linens too.
For tableware, I use white Orbit plates from Conran that will add a tonal element against a natural cloth. If you have gone floral-and-fun match that energy with your plate selection - Bordallo at Liberty has a great range.
Glassware is a massive trend right now: There’s loads of cool Murano brands like Casa Celva - but it can be really expensive to buy full sets so I’ve been collecting matching pairs for years. On this table I have used Bitossi and Nettel + Tansey water glasses. At my house, wine glasses are probably going to get broken, so I’ve opted for classic IKEA.
Step Two: Design Accents
I love designing around the table too, so I made small little fruit sculptures inspired by frukibana (get inspired here) at each end with a couple of bud vases. How? Two words: kebab sticks.
“Art candles” are a massive trend at the moment; Lex Pott or Diaphane Candles are my current faves for “fancy” - but I also keep a stock of more classic candles on reserve. Insiders tip: Whittingtons Floral Supplies in New Covent Garden have the most amazing selection of tapered candles in all different colours. If that’s too far to trek, Tiger Tiger has great classic candles that are only 50p a piece and unlike a lot of expensive candles they are coloured all the way through, which means they look a lot nicer once lit and melt beautifully.
Step Three: The Centre Piece
Cut flowers are always a winner - some tulips in a jug will do the trick. Studio Lupine is my go-to for flower arranging inspiration. However, flowers have a huge carbon footprint and a very short shelf life, so I’ve been trying to reduce how much I buy them by making my centerpieces with things I already have in the house. This can be anything from a gorgeous, overflowing fruit bowl to a full scale “frukibana” arrangement. On this table I have used a giant clam shell as a fruit bowl that I can lift out and replace by the real centrepiece… the food!
Step 4: Food, Glorious Food!
Plating up the food on interesting dishes can add another layer of interest for your guests. Laila Gohar is a big inspiration for food styling. Here I have tried something new by using some antique pewter ice cream moulds from eBay to cast salted butter and added a little radish crudité as a side. Ebay is the best - if there’s anything you’re desperate to get your hands on, use the saved searches to set up alerts for the things you’re hunting.
For me, the dinner table looks it’s best mid-way through dinner when there are red wine stains on the linen, the candle wax has melted and the last bits of food are being fought over. That’s when you know that people have enjoyed what you created for them.
A: Fabulous! And what would one wear to host such an extravagant affair?
H: I’m a big fan of comfort when I’m hosting at home; the looser the waistline the more room for delicious food! That being said - I still want to feel glamorous - I particularly love this backless Jacquemus number because the linen compliments my tablescape. However, now I’ve seen this orange strapless number by Rotate, I want to design a ruffled orange table - how fun would that be?!