Home Interior Design

The Dos and Don’ts of Setting a Festive Table, According to John Derian

29/09/2021

If you are about to host a dinner party but are stumped when it comes to your table decor, atelier owner and tastemaker John Derian is here to save the day with style. He recently hosted a “fanciful tea” for a few of his closest friends and colleagues at his downtown New York apartment, and he luckily agreed to share his tips for entertaining. Here are Derian’s top dos and don’ts.

Derian (right, with cake), amid a bevy of friends. From left: florist Christopher Bassett; ceramist Amanda Moffat; linen designer Jeanette Farrier (she made the tablecloth); tabletop designers Ivan Pericoli and Benoît Astier de Villatte; the Green Vase designer and owner, Livia Cetti; and Derian’s studio manager, Greg Domres.
Allie Holloway

 

DO: START WITH THE MENU

When planning a dinner party, Derian recommends starting with the menu. “Once I know the type of food, I imagine the plates and the tablecloth,” he says. For this party, Derian chose to go with a fanciful tea and chose pieces to suit. For texture, he kept the height of the serving dishes in mind, ranging from footed bowls for condiments, sauces, and fruit to a lofty cake stand for a berry tart.

Derian recommends varying the serving dishes on your table to create different heights and layers. The tableware is by John Derian for Astier de Villatte, the tablecloth is by Jeanette Farrier, and the cake stand is from Derian’s own decoupage collection.
Allie Holloway

 

DON’T: SET OUT ANYTHING YOU WON’T USE

With our world’s focus on eliminating waste, Derian recommends applying the same motto to your table setting. You no longer need to follow the formal rules of yesteryear demanding that each place include at least five pieces of silverware. If you don’t need a superfluous spoon, don’t set it. However, Derian does caution that the rules of placement should still be followed.

Derian arranging the table before his guests arrive.
Allie Holloway

 

DO: APPROACH YOUR TABLE LIKE AN OUTFIT

“It’s fun to mix,” Derian says. “Sometimes it’s easier to imagine laying out clothes—would you wear this piece with that? The same rules apply for tabletop. As long as you like it and it works, go wild!”

Derian even suggests taking it a step further and mixing up the chairs using an eclectic selection of antiques and his own line for Cisco Home.

DON’T: USE A SKY-HIGH CENTERPIECE

For the centerpiece, Derian recommends using more unusual pieces that are aesthetically interesting. Varying height is key, as long as your guests can still see each other, and Derian suggests thinking about items like tall candles, short flowers, or statuaries if you have them. Once he even included some birds’ nests he had found. “As long as your guests can sit comfortably, converse, and pass things around the table, anything goes,” Derian adds.

Derian recommends using unscented flowers for the table, and Livia Cetti from the Green Vase created these paper arrangements for him.
Allie Holloway

DO: GO EASY ON THE FLOWERS (AND ASK YOUR FRIENDS TO BRING THEM)

For this party’s floral arrangements, Derian called on Livia Cetti of the Green Vase to create some of her paper florals for the table, and he turned to his longtime friend Christopher Bassett, the florist behind the beautiful sets for The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, to create the mantel piece ensemble. (Both were invited to the fete, of course!) “Flowers for the table should be delicate, small, and unscented,” Derian explains. “But I like to feel free to go crazy elsewhere.”

 

From ELLE Decor

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