I think the difference between the art of styling and the art of design is often muddled... In my opinion, styling refers to taking existing elements that you are given and organizing them into an aesthetic whole that is more spectacular than the sum of their parts. Design, on the other hand, is about creating a look from the ground up, where you are the innovator of all of the elements.
I absolutely love doing both styling and design, so it was great fun to work with my good friend and genius businesswoman Amanda Allen, on behalf of her brainchild NewlyWish, an online alternative registry service for chic, sophisticated New York couples, to style a gorgeous seasonal tablescape. Design guru Isaac Mizrahi had approached Amanda to put together a stylish and contemporary holiday table for his weekly "webisodes" using tabletop items from her registry merchants on NewlyWish. Naturally, I was honored to be asked to enhance the style of the elements she wanted to showcase on behalf of her merchants.
Isaac's studio is a stylist's heaven as you would imagine! It was props galore! So, I was able to take the gorgeous tabletop items Amanda had selected from merchants like Bobby Berk Home, Fish's Eddy, Bowery Kitchen and Michael Aram and really enhance them with beautiful furniture and finishings to create a cool, but still homey holiday tabletop.
Mismatched plates set the scenes for a tabletop that is friendly, but still formal - an appealing alternative to uber-fancy china and crystal. Also, altering the purpose of tabletop and home items gives them fun new life - these sweet glasses hosted our "Bloody Mary" shrimp and a simple pashmina worked double-duty as a table runner.
Using hand calligraphy for any event or dinner elevates the style and adds a personal touch, so my friend, calligrapher Anne Robin, lent her hand to write these gorgeous place cards. Instead of stands, I used fresh dahlias to prop up the card which tied in perfectly to the simple centerpiece of dahlias, kangaroo paws and baby purple artichokes.
As a side note, this was my first time professionally styling food... and I loved it! I want to use food in every photo shoot from now on! Everything from finding the perfect angle at which to slice the bread to pouring the wine to the perfect level was great fun. And, as with all at home entertaining, adding food to the tabletop made it truly look and feel like a celebration was about to take place.
All photography by Sofia Negron
You can see the Webisode in which this tablescape was featured here.