Bonadea’s Ultimate Tablescaping Guide for Summer Alfresco Dining

As we transition into the summer months and shake off lockdown rules, hosting at home will take centre stage and every meal with friends, family and our loved ones will be an important one. There’s been a growth in demand for tableware in the last year as people wanted to make a meal out of every occasion, which extended to laying up beautiful tables with linens, glassware and proper service ware.
Popularised in the 18th century by aristocrats in their quest to show off their opulent displays to dinner guests, the concept of tablescaping isn’t new. However, the idea has resurfaced enormously as homeowners have looked to creatively dine at home with guests and continue to do so throughout the warmer months. To add a touch of luxury and elevate alfresco dining and picnics into a far more special affair, look to create a stunning tablescape. Enter Gemma Martinez de Ana, Founder & Creative Director of Bonadea – one of the UK’s foremost luxury brands for tableware, glassware and rare, exquisite objet d’art.

Gemma shares a guide along with her top tips for a summer of entertaining, setting the scene and creating a memorable experience for guests by elevating alfresco dining with a beautiful tablescape.

– Depending on the feast before you and the wider context of the table, use these influences to design the tablescape. This season is going to be all about flora, fauna and bright colours as we seek to celebrate the natural world and the brightness of the season, mimicking the warmth we experience in our travels and the elation we feel following time with friends. Floral inspired chinaware is going to be particularly popular with people investing in lasting pieces for outdoor entertaining, items such as Alberto Pinto’s histoires d’orchidées dinner plates, a true celebration showstopper of the orchid flower. 

– Tablescapes are jewellery for the table and an abundance of layering is key to impressing guests at an alfresco luncheon. Layering adds interest and depth to the design and can make your scape as maximalist or minimalist as you’d like. Depending on how formal you wish to be, a charger or service plate is a great addition – it elevates the feel of a table and creates the base layer to the design. We have an exclusive range launching by Marie Daage who we have designed a collection of plates with. Each piece is hand painted and features either a wildflower motif – a nice symbol for unfurling and growing on from this last year of lockdowns – and a sunny palm print, signally brighter times ahead.

– If your table is long, we don’t recommend centralised flowers, spread them along the length of the table in votive glasses. This season it will be about integrating the wild and more informal florals, over fixed or staged designs, it’s all about radiating the feeling of hope that the change in season brings, we encourage foraging! Mix and match your lighting too, integrating lanterns of varying sizes throughout but keep these low lying so as to not impact upon eyeline and conversation.

– One of the best bits of eating outdoors is the impact it has on all senses; don’t forget to scent your table. This can be done by peppering your table with sprigs of fresh mint, rosemary and other herbs, or choosing blooms with identifiable scents, for example, freesia, jasmine and honeysuckle. It’s an unexpected twist and really polishes the experience. We subtly use incense to really add an element of surprise when guests are first seated, we particularly like Fornasetti’s new ‘Flora’ incense sticks.

– Carafes are currently having a revival, which very much reflects the mood when it comes to outdoor entertaining as people seek to replicate an indoor experience and equally raise the bar. Lobmeyr’s Garden of Paradise carafe and glasses are particularly poignant. Equally, for those who wish to channel the Mediterranean, the French Villandry Rattan Carafe is a great addition.

– In the era of the pandemic, one of the key trends this spring/summer is to theme tablescapes with travel and destinations. Channel Italian glamour with the Oriente Italiano fine porcelain dinner collection from Richard Ginori 1735. It features an evocative and stylised floral motif painted in jewel-like delicate hues created using a flawless airbrushing technique. Imbued with timeless appeal and merges exotic beauty with contemporary Italian luxury, it’s perfect for adding eclectic charm to your tablescapes. 

– Our striking and decadent L’Objet collection is inspired by the Greco-Roman treasures of the ancient world. The Aegean themed collection draws on classical motifs, including the waves, or ‘aiges’ in Greek, that give the sea name and the design its contemporary scalloped trim. Expertly crafted in fine Limoges porcelain, the Aegean dinnerware collection showcases a captivating blend of timeless style and contemporary glamour. For English countryside chic, our range of Les Champignons tableware and brick linen cloths are perfect for an organic, natural looking setting.

– Lastly, it may be outdoor dining but never underestimate the role of linens. Whether for casual or formal dining, table linens will set the scene – they can be dressed down or up depending on the occasion. From embroideries to simple, starched linen, they create the perfect canvas to build upon. We also like to use a ream of a favourite fabric – it might be Pierre Frey or equally something found in an antiques hall, literally anything that can be layered. A beautiful napkin, placemat or tablecloth, or all three together can immediately uplift the simplest porcelain design! Los Encajeros’ collection of linens are perfect for the upcoming outdoor entertaining season. The bright colours and fun stitch detailing lend a relaxed yet refined look.
Encompassing everything from bespoke personalised designs, pure linens and crystal glassware, porcelain china to fine candles with 24 karat gold scents and hand finished bamboo cutlery, the expertly-curated and exclusive ranges at Bondea showcase the finest, most exceptional examples from some of the most highly regarded heritage brands, talented artisans and best contemporary designers sourced globally to bring richness and beauty to tabletops.
Founded in 2016 as an online platform, it has grown to be one of the largest e-commerce brands within the sphere with clients globally. Bonadea is set to launch its first boutique in the old photo studio of Sir Antony Armstrong-Jones on the Pimlico Road in 2021.

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