Our good friend Kate Fowler is a wonderful source of knowledge on how to create a stylish and memorable tablescape, and while she was busy setting up the Wonderscape table in Sydney, we had a few questions to ask her.
What have you learnt over the years when dressing a table for lunch at home?
When I have people over, I like to keep it pretty relaxed, there are usually kids running around - so it is hard to imagine it otherwise. Some layering of heights and textures is always nice. I try to have some flowers on the table. Candlelight at night... any condiments and water close at hand.
Are there any things you tend to avoid when you decorate a tablescape?
I make sure the height is kept reasonably low; you want to be able to see everyone at your table. When using florals or produce on the table you would also want to be mindful of how they will fare on the table if weather is involved.
How do you tend to prep ahead of hosting 'long lunches' or dinner parties? Ie. do you source everything new each time, hire things or utilise a 'kit' of sorts and have a good collection of things that you tend to use time and time again?
The main prep is in deciding what to cook and getting the drinks cold! In terms of the table, I just use what I have on hand - I have slowly built up a collection of serve ware from places like lunatiques (and vinnies is great) - often old things are just made better, I like the thought that these have lived a life before arriving at my place - they tend to carry a sense of character. I also love the ceramics via Fourth Street Home and Alex and Trahanas. The food and drink will always guide what vessels to use. If I am having people over, I would usually pop down to the market to grab some flowers that morning - if not I just use something from the garden. I have a big bougainvillea here which I sometimes borrow from - treading carefully with the thorns of course!
What is your favourite way to take time for yourself?
I love to read, so that usually bookends the day for me. I am a night owl and can find it hard to unwind but getting lost in a story really helps. For more social days, a glass of wine with friends never goes astray.
What do you like to wear to a special event?
It really depends on the occasion! I'm not really tied to a particular look - I let myself be guided by the weather or a special piece - time of day also plays an obvious role too. Accessories are often as pivotal as the outfit. But if I am having people over to my place, I would always wear something pretty relaxed, usually barefoot - it doesn’t feel right to be too dressed up at home.
Does the food and drink inspire the table settings you create?
Yes, in the more practical sense it will certainly guide what plates and glasses you need, cutlery and so on. If there are any odds and ends of produce left you could display some of it on the table - maybe displaying some fennel tops in a vase, or some herbs. Maybe some walnuts in their shells, with a nutcracker. If your meal calls for parmesan - you might pop your block of cheese on a wooden board with a little microplane - unless it's a big more decorative event, it works best when the things on your table are interactive or serve some sort of purpose.
Can you provide a couple of great tips for hosting an event, like the Wonderscape long lunch?
I always start with a mood board to create a theme for hosting an event like the Wonderscape long lunch. I need to make sure all my elements tie in together, to have a great flow for the lunch ahead. Food and wine must be paired perfectly, florals are a great way to set the tone, as well as our table setting. I love to do place cards, to make sure guests are seated with common friends, as this elevates the mood of the lunch to make sure their all enjoy each other’s company. Hosting for me, is creating an experience and atmosphere for my guests, everything is always very well thought out.