Today’s time-pressed hostesses and hosts are seeking casual elegance in entertaining. Rather than going formal, many are hosting wine or craft beer tastings in their kitchens. Some are inviting guests over to dine buffet style or to enjoy casual backyard barbeques.
“The table is an area where we enjoy expressing our creativity, but in a freer, less fussy way. Tableware doesn’t have to match nor do we have to eat at a formal table setting in a dining room,” said Beatriz Ball, founder of the tabletop company that bears her name.
Kim Seybert, owner and founder of Kim Seybert — a tabletop, home décor, and gift company agreed. “Casual, easy entertaining is the way to go in these fast, modern times.”
Several design experts are weighing in on what’s trending in tabletop and serveware. “I’m designing with a lot of blue and white for home entertainment and weddings. There are usually accents of gold and silver to make it feel new,” said Kate Edmonds, President, Kate Edmonds Corporate and Private Events, Ltd. — an event production, design, and wedding planning company.
Sweet pastels such pale peach, powder pink, and baby blue are trending in home décor and more broadly in larger entertaining environments, and in fashion.
“A palette we’re calling ‘Freshwater Pearls,’ is soft and sophisticated, and highlights minty greens and soft corn silk yellow,” added Patti Carpenter, Principal and Creative Director, Global Trend Ambassador at carpenter + company/Trendscope — a global consultancy working in International Product Design; Development and Color; and Trend Research and Forecasting.
Carpenter also noted a bold palette of oranges, yellows, greens, and blues that range from watery-blue to indigo. Black and white is also showing up in Europe — a trend to watch. “Contrasting light and dark is a great way to create dynamism,” added Alicia Brockwell, COO/Partner at The York Manor — an event space in Los Angeles.
A handful of manufacturers also chime in on the styles that are driving the market. Beatriz Ball says the trend towards casual entertaining and mindful eating fits into the aesthetic of handmade items.
Warm wood tones in artisan-crafted pieces were also spotted by Janice Christensen, Director, Communications and Branding at giftware company, Nora Fleming. Seybert noted that natural looking materials and an emphasis on craft/handmade is dominating. On trend is her hand-carved Burma Tray, which is embellished with aged brass peacocks.
Ellen Fruchtman, Director, Public Relations of lifestyle brand Mud Pie, noted that ceramics, glass, and metals all feature texture. Recycled colored glass, washed woods, and galvanized tin are important with blue being the prominent color.
Edmonds also highlighted texture — from sequins in pale shades of silver, gold, white, and gray to velvet in surprising pastel pinks, and heritage napkins with the ever-trending monogram in color.
Carpenter noted that today’s serving pieces are moving into décor because they’re beautiful enough to be displayed when not in use. Materials are being mixed — crystal is often paired with wood or metal.
Metallics/metals continue in strength with the latest being brushed brass and muted, warm coppery tones with less red casts. Scaling adds a hint of drama to tabletop with items going from small and delicate to over-sized.
“In serveware, we see the continuation of a matte black finish in sleek contemporary silhouettes. I’m obsessed with the Mepra iridescent finish on flatware. It works with any color and style. We’re also seeing new finishes (often called champagne) in metals that sit equally balanced with a gold or silver cast,” stated Carpenter.
Beyond aesthetics, lifestyle trends play a role in tabletop design. “All gatherings call for snacks and small bites — even if a sit-down dinner is being served,” opined Nora Fleming’s Christensen.
“Gourmet serving platters speak to today’s grazing life-style,” added Carlos Barbagallo, President, Pampa Bay—a gift/tabletop company. They’re ideal for entertaining with charcuterie, cheeses, roasted vegetables, and other trendy nibbles.
With that said, sectional pieces are performing well — cracker trays, small bowls, bowl and board combinations, and salad bowls. While some items relate to the tapas trend, others work into the health-conscious movement.
With many hosts and hostesses being pressed for time and space, today’s collections also offer smart solutions. Seybert’s reversible Stamped and Dart placemats can be flipped over and used in a variety of decorating schemes.
Low maintenance items are key at Pampa Bay. All pieces are dishwasher-safe, tarnish- and stain-free, scratch resistant, and versatile.
“The magic behind our products is the interchangeable nature of the platters and base pieces with the colorful, stoneware minis (decorative pieces that can be inserted into holes in the platters and other pieces). The components can be mixed and matched depending on the occasion,” said Nora Fleming’s Christensen.
The company’s multitasking utensil crock can hold utensils, store cups, and work as a vase for displaying flowers. For easy storage, Beatriz Ball’s VIDA Alegria series offers a cake stand with a twist-off pedestal base.
Relaxed entertaining also calls for materials that are unbreakable. With versatility in mind, many items used indoors can easily step outside.
“Outdoors entertaining is being dominated by melamine, which can be casual or formal. Patterns and colors are exploding and have a broad range of aesthetics for all tastes and budgets,” said Carpenter.
Nora Fleming’s melamine trays can be used indoors or outdoors and can work in casual or more formal settings. The items are durable and shatter-resistant yet elegant. Melamine is also used in Beatriz Ball’s VIDA Alegria collection, which boasts a palette of white, blue, green, salmon, and butter.
For the outdoors, Carpenter is seeing more organic solutions of wood, bamboo, and recycled papers with new finishes. Cork — a newer trend — also offers a sensible and sustainable solution.
Patterns are trending towards retro botanicals and tropicals, which feature large-scale leaf motifs. Pineapples and cactus designs are also strong. “Classic icons like pineapples, flamingos, and flip flops are doing well,” concluded Nene Okereke, Account Management Specialist at gift company, C. R. Gibson.