Tables that reflect our passions

Tables that reflect our passions

ART DE VIVRE - Ricky Toledo, Chito Vijandre (The Philippine Star) - August 3, 2019 - 12:00am

The empty table is the loneliest thing. Look at what you have and find a thread that runs through your favorite pieces. It may be related to where you found it or what it reminds you of — maybe a vacation, a love story, or an encounter?

The empty table is the loneliest thing. What would our celebrations be without the exuberance of silver, linen, flowers, candles and centerpieces on our dinner tables? What about side tables, consoles and occasional tables?  These are oftentimes neglected, except for the functional ashtray or default vase.  Such a pity since they hold so much promise for decorating — virtual platforms to stage our preoccupations, our dreams, our desires.

For Yves Saint Laurent, filling up those tables became an obsession after being mesmerized by a tabletop of precious objects in the Belle Epoque hôtel particulier of the Vicomtesse Marie-Laure de Noailles.  After a visit to her home, the late couturier and his partner Pierre Bergé started their legendary collection of beautiful and refined objects and paintings, which were coveted by the most discerning connoisseurs and made headlines in a landmark auction at Christie’s held after Saint Laurent’s death.   

Positioned beside chairs and sofas, tables are actually the perfect settings for tableaus that spark conversation at parties and inspire contemplation during quiet moments of solitude. This is also a chance to have precious, beloved objects within reach instead of having them out of sight and out of mind, gathering dust in some cabinet or shelf. But stacking them mindlessly on a surface is not the way to better appreciate them, either. 

A trip to Greece’s ancient ruins and museums inspired our tableau for a console table with classical urns as the focal point.

Choose A Theme Or Make Up A Story

Look at what you have and find a thread that runs through your favorite pieces. It may be related to where you found it or what it reminds you of — maybe a vacation, a love story, or an encounter?  A trip to Greece’s ancient ruins and museums inspired our tableau for a console table with classical urns as the focal point.

Use Layers Of Materials, Textures, Eras And References

To make it more interesting, choose objects with different materials and textures.  To complement the ancient look of the marble and ceramic urns, we used a bronze candlestick from the Baroque era, a small oil painting of a bird in a gilded frame, a Chinoiserie porcelain fudog and whimsical Blackamoors, which we embellished with corals to recall our memories of the Greek isles.

Vary The Heights Of The Objects

Pieces stand out better when they have different heights. Even if they are all similar in size, you can put some on little stands of various sizes. To elevate some of the pieces, we used old books, which still fit with our classical theme, but you can also use crystal or Lucite blocks.

Small Paintings Can Be Displayed On Tabletops

Instead of mounting on a wall, you can also display paintings on the table with the help of easels. Beside a chair or sofa, they become more accessible for leisurely appreciation.  As a counterpoint to these religious paintings, we used a kudu horn and Nepalese skull to evoke the dawn of creation and the transitory nature of life. 

Mix And Match Picture Frames

To display family photos, use different sizes, shapes and styles of picture frames to make a novel mix.  A combination of color, black and white and sepia photos also helps. To highlight the different stages and rituals of life, from baptism to marriage, religious sculptures are added to the tableau. 

Use Minerals As A Theme 

A broken marble tabletop was the starting point for this setting.  We asked surface artist Tats Manahan to replace the top with wood finished in faux malachite, which was the perfect base to display some of our mineral and crystal acquisitions: quartz, agate and malachite bowls and boxes; a jewel-encrusted amber skull; French miniature portraits painted with mineral pigments.  An antique Buddha head, nautilus shells in bronze and porcelain and Roman glass containers complete the scene.    

Fill Up A Sofa Tray

When a sofa is too big and wide, or when you use an opium bed or campaign bed, a sofa tray comes in handy for tea or drinks. It does not have to keep your decorating urges reined in, however. We placed a removable shagreen tray over this lacquered sofa tray to display a gentleman’s collection of a Victorian letter opener, page-turner and pomanders; Chinese cricket containers and a shagreen case for spectacles. 

Make Trays Into Tables 

You can never have enough tables, so why not make one from some of your trays?  We used a velour-wrapped folding stool as a base for this hand-painted, lacquered tray, which we used for our “Cleopatra” tableau: A carved wooden snake, a pate de verre scarab ashtray, jeweled containers for the Egyptian Queen’s cosmetics and potions, a woven fan and a hand-carved ostrich egg vigil lamp. 

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Follow the authors on Instagram @rickytchitov; Twitter @RickyToledo23; Facebook: Ricky Toledo Chito Vijandre.

 

RICKY TOLEDO AND CHITO VIJANDRE TABLE SETTINGS
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