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Tablescaping: Fussy dining fad or latest luxury pastime?

What really is the tablescaping trend that has millennials obsessing over scalloped placemats, bone china and starter bowls?

Ujjainee Roy | Published 18.01.22, 07:02 PM
A tablescape featuring a white and blue palette, accented by pops of orange and dotty glassware

A tablescape featuring a white and blue palette, accented by pops of orange and dotty glassware

Lay London

It’s not a coincidence that every other influencer on your timeline is posting about willow-pattern crockery and Lazy Susans. A few weeks into the pandemic, tastemakers forecasted a fussy year for housebound urbanites who had an awful lot of time on their hands to style their homes. But tablescaping isn’t just an elite trend that has kept the affluent on their toes; there’s a bigger change in spending behaviour that suggests the younger demographic too, has been swept up in the tide of floral centrepieces, elaborate serveware and table linens.

“I’m 23-years-old and in the last two years, I have spent so much time fixing up the table at my home or exploring ways to style my kitchen or dining set-up, because I have been so bored. When you have to stay in constantly, this is a good way to be creative” says Dikshya Hazarika, a communication design specialist for Kolkata-based lifestyle label Nestasia.


There is no denying that the burgeoning post-pandemic market for luxury home goods is shaking up retail. As the hospitality industry pressed pause on offering experiential services, consumers tried to recreate luxury experiences at home. Even major players in fashion are pivoting to the home sector to cover their losses; brands like Gucci Decor, Fendi Casa, Dior Maison, Armani/Casa, and several major fashion houses have branched out to extend their design philosophy to home decor.

“2020 was something of a shock for us, we had to constantly remake our pieces because we kept selling out! Since people were cooking more, it pushed them to think about plating and dining set-ups. Even though not everyone is looking to spend on elaborate 24-piece sets, a curated look is in demand so eight-piece sets are selling out fast,” says Neha Jhunjhunwala who runs the Kolkata-based design label Studio 13, along with Vrinda Jain. But then again, it’s not just about layering crockery or picking out the right placemats, there’s also a visible uptick in trend-oriented spending.

“It’s interesting because setting up a table has always been a pretty key aspect in our culture as well. Now, of course, there are contemporary elements at play and there’s a focus on modernist culinary settings. Tasteful crockery, muted colourways, Scandinavian design elements are trending,” Hazarika tells us.

The more the merrier

The resurgence of maximalism is a pretty significant contributor to the tablescaping trend — a reverse Marie Kondo if you will — anything that brings joy can be on the table. Homegrown labels like Noor and Neimar Sethi’s Artisan Lab and Ayush Baid’s Ellementry are recalling retro tableware like cloches and Lazy Susans, while Nicobar, Dandelion and Anita Lal’s Good Earth are relying on artisanal production for their line of ceramics, table linens and serveware.

"For us, enhancing and extending our offering to include tablescape essentials like mats, runners, cocktail and dinner napkins as well as ceramics, seemed like the perfect next step to add on to Dandelion LIVING. With vivid prints and colour pops, our attempt is to brighten one’s private space beyond the confines of the bedroom" says Dandelion’s Samyuka Nair.

“I think this spending behaviour is tied to the general trend of people wanting to create a space that reflects their personality. Our environment has a big effect on our moods and how we feel about things, so younger people are also realising that investing time and money in your home can bring a lot of happiness,” says Sarah Fotheringham, who runs the Delhi-based lifestyle label Safomasi.

Safomasi’s line of table linens features safari prints, pop-hued table runners, evil eye placemats that can be mixed and matched whether you’re planning a small tea service or a full-blown tablescape for a Sunday dinner. “My top tip when curating a tablescape is to have fun, playing with a mix of colours and prints. But when in doubt, choose a colour palette and stick to patterns that pick up similar tones. For example, all botanical and floral prints, or all blues and whites. And then you can always accessorise with fresh flowers or greenery. For the biggest impact, you can’t beat a colourful table cloth, however, we also love using table runners paired with napkins in complementary prints,” Sarah ventures.

“When I was starting out with my tablescaping workshops, I would get questions like, ‘what is table styling?’ People would ask me whether it’s just about curating a buffet set-up or a themed place setting. Even in cities like Mumbai and Delhi, I had tons of people asking me what tablescaping really entails. I feel the audience has come a long way in the last decade. Of course, it’s quite key for food stylists or food photographers but I see so many homemakers who share a passion for entertaining in style. I think it’s a coming together of both these spectrums which made this trend significant,” shares Ami Kothari, a leading table stylist who specialises in bespoke curations.

What you see is what you get

The emergence of tablescaping may be directly connected to unbridled screentime. The tablescaping hashtag has more than 1.5 million posts on Instagram at the moment. The way we consume content obviously affects our buying patterns. “We do work with influencers from time to time, I would say social media is quite key in the lifestyle segment considering the influence it has on modern buyers,” Hazarika confirms.

A tablescape curated by Ami Kothari, featuring a floral centrepiece

A tablescape curated by Ami Kothari, featuring a floral centrepiece

Millennial consumers are constantly looking to recreate an outdoor ambience so botanical china, faux foliage, woodland-themed tablescapes, or even fresh floral arrangements are in vogue. Thanks to the dominance of viral Tik Tok videos, the Gen-Z demographic too seems invested in themed table set-ups. “I have school-going kids calling me who want matching dessert plates for their birthday parties because they’re planning their cakes and thinking about how to serve it! In Kolkata especially, we have found a steady buyer base and people seem to know what they want,” Jhunjhunwala shares.

Kothari believes that this trend isn’t restricted to Tier-I cities. “We have held workshops in smaller towns, where people are interested in tablescaping, they’re open to newer ideas. This is something that has so much commercial potential, it has space to grow. Even when we order in we try to dress up a table and create an ambience. People now want to curate a tablescape even for intimate private celebrations. With Valentine’s Day on the horizon, people are looking for professional assistance. We even have masterclasses where we train people to pursue table styling professionally,” Kothari shares.

Entertaining this weekend? Check out Kothari’s quick tablescaping tutorial for Nostalgia Homes where she uses a maximalist gold lily candle holder as a centrepiece and complements it with a layered, grey stoneware crockery set.

Last updated on 18.01.22, 07:02 PM

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