As the editor for the “Settings” department, which explores the design and aesthetic of table settings, I get to look at a lot of beautiful things. Beautiful spaces. Beautiful tableware. Handcrafted furniture. Floral arrangements. Artisan linens. I’ve come to realize that no one idea or object can carry an environment, and that the success of creating a special space for dining is, as much – if not more— dependent on the vision of the host than the objects you are working with. All the expensive cutlery in the world cannot replace the joie-de-vive of an inspired host.
I went to Amanda McClements for the November setting because I knew she had that joy of entertaining and that she would have a fresh, invigorated concept for a very pigeonholed month: November. I also knew that her knowledge of regional products would mean incorporating and supporting some wonderful local artisans. The result was clean, crisp, and utterly picturesque. But more importantly, it has a feel that can be achieved at home.
The Settings department is meant to inspire. Sure you could track down every product listed and make an ideal replica of the scene, but something always suffers in these catalogue-esque constructions. Where is the presence, the personality of the host? Instead, we aim to offer cues and ideas, meant for interpretation. Maybe instead of sunshine yellow, you have your own bold colored linens waiting for a chance at the table? Perhaps you don’t have dark brown bottles, but you have some great vintage Pyrex? Maybe an artsy industrial chair isn’t something you have sitting around, but you do have an iron patio set… sneak a chair indoors for the evening!
The idea, like the driving force behind cooking, or any creative endeavor truly, is to reveal a bit of yourself through your work. And whether that work is expressed in a delicious four-course meal, or the beautiful space in which you happen to be enjoying it, the secret ingredient remains the same. Just put a little heart in it.