Concierge M. Gustav also spoke for residential designers when he said “You see there are still faint glimmers of civilization left in this barbaric slaughterhouse that was once known as humanity. You see that is what we provide in our own modest humble – Oh f_ it.”
He has a point. Fighting the current neurotic and robotic social downslide can be tiring and soap-box-ish.
Was it a dim recollection of The Grand Budapest Hotel’s pastry creation, the Chocolate Courtesan, that determined my idea to serve petit fours at High Tea in my design showroom this spring? If the film is behind this round of hostessing it’s not its decor this time but its refinement that inspires. While pastry figures prominently in this Wes Anderson movie portraying “uniquely refined people”, most of the current design inspiration sources seem to be working into the tea party concept too.
To serve a formal tea at home I needed a tiered cake stand. The most charming by a California mile are from Vagabond House. I love the pewter branches with birds but chose the oak and acorn one to compliment the candelabra I ordered for the showroom a few months back. A cheese triangle from the same collection, perfect for little cakes, adds detail.
White linen placemats curved to fit a round table are made and hand top-stitched by moi. Family heirloom linen napkins are fine and thin with use. Did you know drinking tea promotes social chitchat? Selecting guests from similar modes for each tea encourages fluid bright conversation. The furniture pieces are chosen to communicate visually. A round table accommodates a few more or less guests with poise in case of cancellations or bring-alongs. The pedestal table from my own workshop is a perfectly simple column so various chairs gathered from other rooms fit in well. A banquette adds spice to the seating experience. Couples sitting together in a banquette can make little edit-jabs very discretely. Set a Diva amid pillows on a double-width seat in a circle of fellow tea drinkers on single chairs and she will share her most fascinating stories!
Best to select chairs from period French frames. You see in the civilized world classic seating has not been swept aside by tubular metal chairs. Its just that the finishes must be current. I’m using light and dark linen colours with white and black details. The pony upholstered desk chair, usually in a different room, looks wonderful pulled up across from pony pillows. You really can’t have too much pony!
I wish I could make Mendl’s pastry following the recipe https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fx5lZkpDxnc However, The Windsor Arms, a neighbourhood hotel serving High Tea, lets me take away petit fours, with a call ahead. I did make cucumber and salmon sandwiches with Ace Bakery organic white bread, crusts trimmed and cut into six.
To make it an event worth staging or attending you also need Wardrobe. Hostess dresses and afternoon dresses for “larger than life people in real life”, as Wes Anderson describes his Grand Budapest Hotel characters, are all the rage, darling! Legendary hostess CZ Guest, left, floats through grand architecture in a kaftan. Kaftans are dress code for princesses and women of exceptional talent and beauty. Everyone’s showing them, like Oscar de la Renta and Etro.
No one does this style better than Hale Bob, above right and below. California showmanship with friendly prices. Kaftans are so important they get a whole blog post to explore how this sensibility is playing through interior design and lifestyle – next.
Wes Anderson lights my imagination with his shining portrayals, “touching, heartfelt and hilarious” to quote Edward Norton. Daniel Bohbot, the Hale Bob creator/designer, inspires too with his profound understanding of pattern. Mining the late sixties and seventies makes the work of shaping design ideas a real joy. I’ve been recalling that people talked about having soul, soul music, soul food. I’ve been thinking about countering the danger of losing our soul to the corporate mind-set by having tuned-in patterns, pure-hearted entertainment and softly designed surroundings.
Enquire about serving pieces, linens, furniture, pillows and upcoming events: 416 921 1043.