Pioneering German architect Mies van der Rohe once said “God is in the detail”, a philosophy renowned events co-ordinator, Otto de Jager, swears by. Having just returned from Paris, Otto inspired Fx with his interpretations of some of the world’s newest and most intriguing trends, and shares his tips on how to throw the perfect occasion.
1. GET TO KNOW DEPTH AND DIMENSION
Use a fashionable autumn colour in its harmonious tones but make a staggering sense of occasion with use of height and dimension. For a threedimensional effect, layer objects but always respect spacing.
2. WORK WITH THE POWER OF COLOUR
Using shapes and sizes in one colour creates a sense of calm on the eye as well as a luxurious and opulent effect on the table. Use clear glassware and crockery in the same spectrum as your chosen colour for maximum impact. The trick is to shop “cheap but smart” so that you can use repetition without worrying about it breaking your budget.
3. CONTROL DECADENCE
Evoke your guests’ senses with rich and decadent food and decor, but remember to integrate functionality into your design. Too much of anything is not a good thing. Decadence is like a forbidden fruit, to be used sparingly and with sensitivity.
4. THINK ORGANIC
We have some of the greatest varieties of grasses and seeds in Africa, and yet we tend to overlook them. There are so many natural resources on our doorstep that cost nothing and can be used to luxurious effect. For this look I filled old Indian containers with the indigenous weed Asclepias but you can draw inspiration from your environment – just make sure that you fill them with something simple. This is a gorgeous look for a garden occasion.
5. BE LIGHTHEARTED
From heart-shaped cheeseboards and chocolates (great wedding favour idea) to napkin details and invitations, the heart is this year’s must-have accessory and is everywhere – in fashion, jewellery and home design.
6. RESPECT AND REINVENT THE CLASSICS
Always have a true respect for the classics as they have universal and timeless appeal, but don’t be afraid to give them an injection of new-age intrigue. For example, take a bunch of quintessential English roses and group them together with some dry Karoo twigs and a few cabbage leaves from the garden. Simply place the arrangement on top of a container or in a vase.
7. CREATE THE MOOD It has been said time and time again, but lighting really is essential for setting the scene at any occasion. Work your lighting so that it can be a table centrepiece – an effective and easy way is to group coloured votives together and fill them with tealights.
8. APPRECIATE CONCEPT, FORM AND TEXTURE
Sleek, minimal and unusual forms and textures can be used to wonderful effect as table centrepieces, particularly for a more formal occasion. In this instance, I used oupa se pyp (Aristolochia littoralis) in its various life stages and floated them separately in perspex containers. You can simply line the boxes along the centre of your table or create the square effect as pictured below. When going for a less-is-more look like this, stick to clear glassware and use rectangular or square white crockery. You can float flowers of your choice but make sure they are quite rigid in form.
9. DARE TO BE DIFFERENT
Turn sleek picture frames into cutting-edge snack platters filled with fun quotes. You could also serve drinks-party snacks in cake boxes if you want to be a bit quirky – simply remove the lid and sigh with relief as you think about how easy the clearing up will be afterwards! Another fabulous idea is to serve only champagne and the prettiest patisserie at a drinks party, christening or baby shower.
10. AND ALL THE REST YOU NEED TO KNOW
• A palette of unusual greens thrown together. Think organic greens such as moss and lichen
• Ceramic containers and clear glassware
• Combining high-polished and natural looks
• Edible food decor
• Reinventing old into new
• Vases in every shape, form and colour
• Understated elegance
.. AND NOT
• Anything synthetic such as faux food garnishes and fake flowers
• Contrived, over-rehearsed dinner parties
• Napkin detail. Rather stick to oversized linen napkins where the quality of the napkin is detail enough