Contrasting table settings by event stylists Jo Claravall and Cyndi Fernandez-beltran
The grandiose influences of the Victorian and Edwardian eras have always been, and will always be, the byword in classically elegant home décor. No matter the changing trend, now going for streamlined interiors that border on the futuristic, the demand remains undiminished for lavish designs that bring back Old World sophistication and grandeur. Table settings, in particular, continue to play up the taste for ornate ornamentation that so characterised the turn of the last century. Floriography—the language of flowers that was popular in the 18th and 19th centuries—has been given new life by way of luxurious arrangements that speak volumes about an occasion, a family milestone or the life of an individual being fêted. Two designers have created contrasting settings that perfectly capture the look and feel of a bygone age: one captures the opulence of the Victorian age with a dark palette and richly coloured blooms; the other reminds of an Edwardian garden basking in the summer sun.
Event stylist Jo Claravall takes diners to an English country manor in high summer with what she calls Crisp Timelessness.
Here, the table is set for a lunch or afternoon tea—but the meal and the celebration can easily spill over into the evening for dinner followed by a selection of petits-fours and, perhaps, a fine cognac.
The setting here features a pristine palette of white and cream with a cool touch of silver; it is elegant enough for royalty but retains some measure of welcome informality given the venue.
Royalty was, truth be told, not far from Claravall’s mind when she built up her concept. “I would like to think that this would be something that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge would come up with,” she enthuses. “Like William and Kate inviting everyone to celebrate Prince Harry’s engagement to Meghan Markle!”
The setting brings in a little of the great outdoors to the table. Claravall has chosen blooms and foliage that would evoke the feeling of sitting in a lush garden. The flowers, in particular, give the impression that the very clouds have drifted down from the sky to add a magical nuance to the meal; Claravall has made use of massive cabbage roses, cloud-like hydrangeas, frilly Queen Anne’s lace, dramatic matiola and pincushion flowers all interspersed with bright sunflowers for a glowing contrast. The greenery is a mix of sylvan and hothouse elements as it features blue cypress, ferns, eucalyptus and artfully arranged succulents.
Place settings, on the other hand, feature an eclectic mix of antique china with etched glasses from France. Silver is the dominant accent to the overall scheme, as the flowers are arranged in elegant urns and tasteful bric-a-bracs are arranged across the table.
According to Claravall, the styling is polished and refined with a relaxed and somewhat au courant vibe—something that would be conducive to fostering a sense of camaraderie among guests.
“I feel it allows for good conversation,” she opines. “The flowers are kept low and, while all the elements are beautiful on their own, they blend together very well. You can see the table as a whole without feeling overwhelmed by any of the elements.”
Claravall has some advice for those who want to add a relaxed vibe or a touch of luxury to their table settings. “Chargers instead of place mats always,” she says. “Also, do a beautiful centrepiece... style your table with a lot of passion! And be sure to build up the ambience by keeping the lighting dim or using candlelight. Plus, add your own personality to the mix and you can never go wrong.”
THIS PAGE Event stylist, Jo Claravall