If you’re a regular reader of this blog (if so, then THANK YOU!) you might be thinking that you’re experiencing a bit of déjà vu. “Didn’t I read about Art of the Table not too long ago?” Actually, you did. Bilotta holds two of these events each year: one in our New York City showroom, and the other in our flagship Mamaroneck location. But there is nothing remotely “déjà vu” about these unique presentations.
From May 17th to June 7th, Bilotta Mamaroneck hosted its third annual Art of the Table, which was sponsored by Bloomingdale’s White Plains, in association with Westchester HOME. We invited six exceptional designers, assigned them one of our showroom displays, and charged them with creating a fantasy setting using tabletop and home décor items from Bloomingdale’s White Plains. This year’s designers included Bana Choura, of Choura Architecture PC; Constance Hall, of Constance Hall Design; Alexandra Amirian, of M&P Design Group; Anne Joyce, of A Joyce Design Inc.; Kim A. Mitchell, of KAM DESIGN; and Lori Gizzarelli, of Bloomingdale's White Plains.
BANA CHOURA - CHOURA ARCHITECTURE
The design by architect Bana Choura could be seen before you even stepped foot into the showroom, since it occupied the street-front display just off the entryway. The kitchen started out as primarily white with gray, so her first thought was to animate the space using color. Bana’s inspiration was the pomegranate. It’s her favorite fruit: she loves the shape, the granularity of its 613 seeds, the flavor, and most especially, the color. For Bana, the symbolism that the fruit holds in religions and ancient civilizations, as well as its prominence in art throughout enlightened periods (and the fact that the pomegranate defines red for her) meant that red was going to be her recurring theme. A red scheme can easily be overdone, but in her deft hands, this stunner shows remarkable restraint.
The Bloomingdale’s products that immediately spoke to her were the sets of “Marc Chagall” Limoges porcelain plates by Bernardaud. Each set of dinner and salad plates consisted of completely different designs, all unified by exuberant color, outrageous motif and, of course, the repetition of red.
Bana anchored each place setting with red Villeroy & Boch Buffet Plates in a textured woven pattern. (She couldn’t resist the addition of a pomegranate atop each stack!)
To further ground the tablescape, she chose simply-shaped Hampton Forge Flatware in black ombré. The Villeroy & Boch Glassware has red stems, balanced by clear bowls, and even more red makes an appearance on the table in the Baccarat votives and as a shade on the clear crystal Baccarat candleholder. And what brings balance to all the red on the table is that it’s been set with solid white linens.
Some of my favorite items in this vignette were actually placed on the perimeter: the Kosta Boda “Tattoo” bowl, vase, and dish, with their engraved red flowers on clear crystal; and the stunning Baccarat “Eye” vase in red. On the range, the choice of Le Creuset enameled cast iron pieces in “Cerise”, with their substantial look and feel, contrast with all the delicate china and crystal.
Because Bana envisioned everyday cooking and family life taking place in this room, she felt it was important to introduce a variety of materials to keep the room from looking overly curated. For example, she included the Nambé “Curvo” acacia wood wine rack, which rests on a silver base.
Three additional large Nambé serving pieces (bowl, tray, and triple condiment dish), this time in their signature silver-finish alloy, round out the collection of kitchen accessories. And for the biggest surprise touch in the glass door cabinets, Bana chose Villeroy & Boch “Colour Concept” barware and bowls in amber, which tie into the golden-toned backsplash.
Bana Choura is the founder and lead architect of Choura Architecture. She specializes in residential design, and has completed over 300 projects, both local and internationally, for renovation, restoration, and new luxury construction including interior design. Her style combines timeless classics with modern accents. Her design philosophy is that, “Aesthetic is my life! I am 'architecting' from the inside out.”
CONSTANCE HALL - CONSTANCE HALL DESIGN
There was no mistaking what Constance Hall’s theme was when you stepped into her display. Constance dubbed her design, “An Invitation to Spring”, as she was inspired by the long-awaited end of winter in New York. She imagined that this room overlooked a beautiful garden where a profusion of birds and butterflies fly joyously in celebration of the warmer weather. It would be a room for a homeowner with a playful “Alice in Wonderland” spirit who loved hosting gatherings for happy family occasions such as engagements, new babies, and job promotions.
She happened to find three collections from Bloomingdales that perfectly exemplified her theme: Kate Spade’s “Eden Court” collection, with colorful butterflies scattered on a white ground; Villeroy & Boch “Anmut” mugs, with a fern and hummingbird motif; and the fanciful Michael Aram “Gingko” series, with stylized, abstract butterflies with wings of gingko leaves and bodies of stems.
Constance immediately knew that she wanted to create a “wall” of cherry blossoms in a series of rectangular glass vases along the entire length of the kitchen island. The cherry blossom stems were repeated on each of the stools. And in one of the most original table decoration ideas that I’ve ever seen, she placed wreaths of spring flowers onto the plates at each place setting.
Do you want to know what separates the pros from the amateurs? An amateur would feel compelled to continue the pastel theme, filling the island with all the beautiful butterfly and bird pieces to hammer home the theme. But a pro like Constance resisted the temptation to do that; she knew she had to let the flowers steal the show while the other accessories played supporting roles. The island countertop is an earthy, variegated granite, so the wreaths sat on a neutral stoneware plate by Hudson Park Collection, which in turn sat on an off-white “Cloud” Charger by Vietri Forma, providing just the right amount of subtle contrast between countertop and pottery.
Another stroke of genius was the selection of the small Juliska “Stonewood Stripe” appetizer bowls: hand-turned acacia wood, inlaid with stripes of marble and resin, serving as another counterpoint to the pastels.
Simplicity continued to reign at the place settings, with the satin gold “H Art Gold” Flatware by Sambonet, the clear William Yeoward “Marlene” crystal tumblers, and the etched striped William Yeoward “Madison” coupes.
The sole butterfly objects on the island were the Michael Aram “Gingko Butterfly” centerpiece candle holders, executed in oxidized metal, bronze, and nickel-plated metal; no pastels in sight.
But don’t for a second think that Constance forgot about all the pastel pieces that initially inspired her. The display cabinets on the perimeter are filled with the Kate Spade’s “Eden Court” butterfly plates and mugs, as well as the “Amazonia Anmut” Mugs by Villeroy & Boch.
Plates from the Michael Aram “Gingko” series also appear here, but this time the gingko butterfly wings are expressed in springtime color. To ensure that these themed pieces remained the focal point on the back wall, she flanked that display with more of the Vietri Forma "Cloud" Plates in solid white, where their crimped pie-crust edges were more prominent. The inclusion of a few deep rose glass vases and votives supplies a subtle pop of color.
The fantasy vision of a celebratory occasion was further expanded with the gold ice bucket, oversized martini glasses, and the ultra-feminine jeweled “Windsor” Champagne Flutes by Olivia Riegel.
And this is where the most spectacular of the Michael Aram “Gingko” pieces makes its understated appearance: the enormous “Gingko Butterfly” centerpiece bowl, in natural and oxidized brass, sits casually off to the side, filled with fruit. This is most definitely a room where you’d want to linger on a balmy spring evening.
Constance Hall is an award-winning designer who has worked with hundreds of residential clients since 2003. She works closely with architects and contractors on all phases of renovation and construction, including additions, kitchen and bath renovations, and interior decoration throughout the home. She believes that, “Good design makes life better. I feel design should delight our aesthetics, our imaginations, our memories, and be in tune with our sensibilities.”
ALEXANDRA AMIRIAN - M&P DESIGN GROUP
When you proceeded through the showroom from Constance Hall’s display to Alexandra Amirian’s, you might have assumed that, with the exuberant spring blooms, the two designers had chosen similar themes. But, in fact, Alexandra’s inspiration for her concept was her love of juxtaposition within design. The kitchen space she chose is very modern and minimalist, and exuded a very masculine vibe to her, so her intention was to create an abundance of femininity within it.
The soft pastel color palette, curvaceous organic shapes and, of course, all those flowers, may seem diametrically opposed to the design sensibility of the room envelope they occupy, yet they coexist in perfect harmony. But Alexandra didn’t want to just draw contrast; she wanted to also find similarities. Black accents (such as the hanging pendant lights, drapery hardware and gray glass bowls and plates) are a nod to the room’s masculine elements.
The contemporary dining chairs (in periwinkle and pale pink), the clean line of the bottles queued up in the glass wall cabinets, and the linear quality of the floral runners on the island, table, and up the middle of the TV screen, all pay homage to the room’s streamlined structural elements.
Alexandra decided to play with combining various pieces from many different Bloomingdale’s collections in order to fashion her overall look. She believes it’s the sum total of all her selections that sets the stage for the joyful, fanciful “garden party” atmosphere. Each place setting is a layered eclectic mix of textiles and dishware. Not one, but two placemats were used: a black Chilewich's “Pressed Dahlia” openwork placemat, atop a round gold placemat by Juliska. The clear glass Villeroy & Boch “Verona” charger, in a linen-like pattern, allows the “Pressed Dahlia” to peek through.
Jars USA’s “Tourron” dinner and dessert plates in Jade support a small “Boston Color” by Villeroy & Boch bowl in gray. The cherry on top is a “Field of Flowers” napkin by Juliska, tethered by a “Puro Gold” napkin ring, also by Juliska.
Other “Boston Color” glassware pieces by Villeroy & Boch also make an appearance on the dining table, some in rose, some in gray. In one case, a rose cup is centered on a small gray pressed glass plate of concentric droplets in the “Kastehelmi” pattern (meaning “dewdrops” in Finnish) by Littala. The tablescape is completed by the minimalist “Zephyr Satin Gold” flatware by Hampton Forge and clear crystal “Cocktail Avantgarde” stemware by Orrefers.
The island and back perimeter wall are set for dessert and coffee. And although Alexandra didn’t really have a single product collection that served as her design inspiration, she did admittedly include some “eye candy” to adorn her fantasy kitchen: the retro Smeg electric kettle and toasters, colored in pastel shades reminiscent of some of your favorite vintage ‘50’s autos; and a handful of crystal “Lucky Butterflies” by Baccarat in assorted Jujyfruit hues, alighting upon countertops, canisters, and a tiered serving tray.
Even here, Alexandra demonstrates her penchant for juxtaposition in design: amid all the sherbet shades, she includes a stunning large abstract ring-shaped “Ouray” sculpture by Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, hand-carved from Paulownia wood; and wood-capped glass “Signy Striped” canisters by Dansk.
Alexandra envisioned this as a party space, with an outdoor wedding being her favorite application in a real customer’s home. That being said, she always intended it to be an avant-garde interpretation of an everyday kitchen; something for a client not inclined to do a lot of heavy-duty cooking.
Alexandra Amirian is the principal of M&P Design Group, and is an award-winning interior designer whose work has appeared in such publications as Architectural Digest, Westchester Magazine, Houzz, and on HGTV’s Property Brothers. She puts a unique spin on every space utilizing both her trademarked “Fluid Interior Design” concept, as well as applied psychology. It’s Alexandra’s belief that interior design is more than just beautification for its own sake; it’s the understanding that a well-designed space can promote optimal living. “Design brings life to all that we do in this world. It’s an expression of who we are and how we feel; it’s indicative of the message we want to present to the public, and how we want to be perceived…Design is all around us whether we know it or not, and I love getting to be a part of that beautiful creation.”
ANNE JOYCE - A JOYCE DESIGN, INC.
This vignette space was a little bit of good news / bad news for Anne Joyce. The good news was that it was a storefront display with great visibility to passersby; and the color scheme, consisting of various materials in shades of grey (cabinetry, tile, and zinc) was something that she felt she could have designed herself. The bad news was, because the space is relatively small, the island doesn’t have an overhang for seating that she could have used to create a table setting. But an experienced pro knows how to make the most of what many others might consider a disadvantage. So, what was Anne’s immediate reaction when she saw the zinc-topped island? A cool, sexy cocktail bar, of course, like one that you might see in a Paris Bistro.
She imagined that the owners of this room would be enthusiastic hosts who loved to entertain family and friends, so this space would be more than just a bar for grabbing a drink during a party; it would also house an espresso bar to provide the perfect ending to a wonderful evening. And since Anne always adds a touch of red to every project, it was a given that her trademark accent would be included at every turn.
Prior to her career in interior design, Anne worked in the field of contemporary art. This creative perspective informed the first decision she made about her assigned space, and it had nothing to do with barware or serving pieces. Anne had overheard that Bilotta was planning to replace the doors of the wall cabinets flanking the hood, so she had a brilliant idea: affix a band of silver metallic adhesive paper the same height as the hood onto the doors, thus extending that horizontal element across the entire elevation. Personally, I would have never thought of altering the actual cabinetry in any way, but that was a statement-making genius move!
Once Anne Joyce had decided on her design inspiration, it only took one visit to Bloomingdale’s White Plains for her to fall in love with the entire line of Georg Jensen stainless steel pieces. Three of the collection’s largest pieces take center stage on the island: the “Alfredo 470” vase (holding red flowers, of course); three different sizes of the serpentine “Cobra” candle holder; and the spectacular “Indulgence Grand” champagne cooler, whose abstract sinuous shape defies your expectation of what a champagne bucket should look like.
Another interesting Jensen item on the island is the “Ibis” vase which, not coincidentally, looks exactly like an Ibis bird.
Additional Jensen pieces sit at the ready to serve up your favorite mixed drinks: the “Manhattan” ice bucket and cocktail shaker, and a pierced silver tray. And for the obligatory cheese and charcuterie accompaniment, what could be a more perfect complement to all the other artistic shapes here than the Nambé Mills “Swoop” cheese board and knife; that swooping shape on the board is not a handle, it’s a removable cheese knife!
For the glass display cabinet on the perimeter, Anne chose red Villeroy & Boch “Colour Concept” tumblers and set them off against Prouna Kiyasa marble salad plates and Villeroy & Boch “Bellisimo” glass dinner plates with platinum edge detailing. The bottom shelf also showcases Waterford flutes in their popular “Lismore Diamond” pattern, but here executed in red crystal.
The countertop below the glass doors is where Anne set up the coffee station, the centerpiece of which is a beautiful red Nespresso espresso maker. She accessorized this area with a "Bernadotte" sugar and creamer set and Villeroy & Boch“New Wave” macchiato glasses. Red crystal vases by Baccarat and Rosenthal provide a lively pop in contrast to the light-toned counter and backsplash.
Anne thought of everything for this cocktail bar. Don’t want to heat up the entire room by turning on the full-size range for just a few hors d’oeuvres? The countertop Wolf convection would perfectly fit the bill for that purpose. (Or did Anne just select it because of the red knobs? She’ll never tell.)
To the right of the range is a smaller version of the sculptural Georg Jensen Champagne Cooler seen on the island, atop their “Manhattan” serving tray, paired with Michael Wainwright “Truro” wine glasses in platinum.
Anne Joyce has worked in interior design for over 20 years, and founded A Joyce Design, Inc., in 2006. Her philosophy is that a home is not just another building; it’s where we live our lives and raise our families, so where and how we live matters. Our homes should be places of rejuvenation and inspiration, and this begins with design. Whether breathing new life into an existing home or creating an exciting new space, Anne loves the process of transformation, and the boundless possibilities of scale, color and form. She enjoys the challenge of bringing freshness and style to any setting, whether it’s a Westchester home, a Hawaii beachfront property, or a luxury condo in Chicago or New York. “It’s all about making something old feel new again, or something new feel familiar.”
KIM A. MITCHELL - KAM DESIGN
Kim Mitchell’s design is more like a Hollywood stage set than a tablescape environment. At the entrance to her vignette, the wooden arrow directional signs indicates that this was a place where the well-traveled could convene to share their tales over great food and wine. (The signs all point to places where she’s been!) But upon entry, there was no doubt that you’d been transported to the Borana Conservancy in Kenya, the bottom arrow on the sign.
In fact, this was an artistic expression of Kim’s most life-changing travel experience: going on safari in Kenya last summer. She drew inspiration from a quote from the book Out of Africa, by Karen Blixen (pen name Isak Dinesen): “Now looking back on my life in Africa I feel that it might altogether be described as the existence of a person who had come from a rushed and noisy world in to a still country.” While setting up her space, Kim even joked that if Robert Redford wanted to take a seat at her table, he’d be more that welcome!
The display space to which Kim was assigned was a small interior room lacking any natural light, so she decided to capitalize on those qualities by creating a cozy cocoon. She draped gauzy linen over the walls and below the ceiling and installed mini lights above the ceiling fabric. Voila! You were now in a tent dining under the star-studded sky of a Kenyan savanna.
At the room’s two thresholds, the linen panels were gathered with cascading jute and black bead tiebacks. A pair of weathered candle lanterns surrounded by arrangements dried dogtail grass established the tent’s entryway.
Kim’s photo of elephants from her trip, and the abundance of African baskets, masks and figurines scattered about the room defined the location. The folding canvas campaign chairs, accessorized with handmade pillows and warm woven throws, set the tone.
For Kim, the inspiration of a Kenyan safari translated into a space that was refined, yet still reflected the perfect imperfection of nature. She wanted the tableware to suggest the raw beauty of nature and wildlife that coexist on the savanna. The items needed to look hand-crafted, which she believes is a hallmark of quality pieces created with passion and artistry. As a result, Kim was immediately drawn to Bloomingdale’s Czech-made Moser “Pebble” crystal collection in a smoke color, which she felt struck a beautiful balance between refinement and irregularity; tradition and modernity.
Kim softened the kitchen island’s stone top with a white tablecloth, then added textural interest with a woven reed and jute runner. Each place setting was anchored by a woven willow placemat. A triple stack of dinnerware then followed: a Vietri “Earth Glass” plate, which resembles molten rock; a Juliska “Puro” dinner plate in whitewash to provide contrast between the top and bottom pieces: and a Juliska “Pewter Stoneware” pasta bowl on top. To reinforce the Earthy, natural theme, Kim added a dried seed pod and feather “nosegay”, neatly tied with a jute bow. Two Moser “Pebble” pieces make an appearance at the table: the highball glass and the stemless martini glass, here creatively used as a votive holder. The bottoms of these glasses look like an outcrop of rocks, and the martini glass is uniquely shaped.
Another touch that I really loved was the simplicity of the Orrefors “Metropol” wineglasses juxtaposed against all the other rustic items, with two Juliska “Essex” napkins arranged in each glass in a manner that reminded me of antelope antlers; a very original way to place napkins. I’ll definitely be stealing that idea!
More juxtaposition of refinement with irregularity abounds on the table: the white contemporary Villeroy & Boch “For Me” teapot on the woven sea grass trivet; the classic white tapers in the carved wooden candlesticks; and the chunky, earthy Juliska “Pewter Stoneware” ceramic coffee cup atop their white “Emerson” side plate with burnished pewter rim.
This contrast of materials continues on the back wall, where rustic handmade African crafts are interspersed with contemporary pottery: white “Forma Cloud” vase, pitcher, and bowls by Vietri; and a Vietri “Earth Glass” bowl set vertically to showcase its gorgeous mottled finish.
Kim A. Mitchell is the principal designer of KAM DESIGN, which she founded to create client-inspired, timeless, and expressive interiors. She provides comprehensive interior design solutions, whether it’s a single room or an entire house, and prides herself on her unparalleled customer service. Her capabilities include drafting architectural interior renovation plans, kitchen and bath design, and project management with contractors, architects, and trades. Kim has a beautiful metaphor for the design process: she likens it to a bird’s nest that is assembled and crafted piece by piece; where each space uniquely reflects where its owners have been, where they’re going and, most importantly, that it should be the one place where they feel perfectly at home whenever they return. Kim has been honored by the Westchester HOME Magazine’s Design Awards for “Best Dining Room” in 2018; and was a finalist in other categories in 2017, 2018, and 2019. Kim also appeared as a “Design Lead” for HGTV’s “Buying & Selling with The Property Brothers”, season 5, and was also invited to join them again in the same capacity for season 10. Asked about her Art of the Table experience, Kim stated, “This is a fantasy design rooted in reality. Sitting at this table, I envision world travelers, explorers, and nature lovers. In my case on safari, also someone who wishes to seize the day, learn about different cultures, and appreciate the beauty our world has to offer.”
LORI GIZZARELLI - BLOOMINGDALE'S WHITE PLAINS
Lori Gizzarelli came to Art of the Table via a slightly different path than our other participants. Instead of having worked as a residential interior designer, Lori is the Visual Merchandising Manager at Bloomingdale’s White Plains, overseeing the creative direction and display of merchandise throughout the entire store. She is also an avid cook, and has traveled the world in pursuit of her next food adventure. So, when she saw the bright and airy display to which she had been assigned, she was inspired to recreate the feeling of a summer escape on the Italian Riviera, with its vibrant energy, pastel color palette, and distinct artistry.
Lori was drawn to the Versace “Byzantine Dreams” dinnerware collection by Rosenthal. The plates sport a classic “egg and dart” outer edge, a beaded inner edge, and a modern interpretation of acanthus scrolls, all in gold, set onto a fresh pink border. Lori felt it represented her Italian heritage, from its bold design, gold accents, and intricate details. Once these pieces were chosen, Lori decided on a soft feminine look for her vignette.
The island had space for two place settings, so Lori envisioned an intimate and fashionable dinner party with light bites, floral cocktails, good company and conversation. Because the countertop is richly-stained wood, Lori chose golden open-weave table runners by Chilewich, and layered that with feminine Chilewich pink woven placemats featuring a random gold Lurex embroidered center section. Both pieces allow the color of the wood to peek through and add to the airy quality of her design.
The dinnerware selections were very artfully arranged, and utilized a mixture of both gold and silver: a gold Villeroy & Boch “Bellissimo” charger anchors the stack; next is the Versace “Byzantine Dreams” dinner plate; then comes the surprise original move of an upside down “Bellissimo” bowl in platinum; topped with a “Byzantine Dreams” soup bowl. A simple white Chilewich napkin rests inside the bowl, adorned with an oversized gold starburst napkin ring.
The place settings were completed using hammered gold flatware and simple, traditional “Elegance” crystal glassware by Waterford. More feminine energy was added to the island with the pink and white cherry blossoms, but the contemporary solid white vases keep the centerpiece from appearing overly frilly. Also providing visual balance to all the opulent detailing are the solid white Villeroy & Boch “New Wave” appetizer plates.
Upside down bowls wasn’t the only original idea in Lori’s space. How about including a few picture frames to your table? Lori chose L'Object's “Star” gold frame and the “Beaded” silver frame by Nambé Mills, both holding floral prints. And instead of the usual tapers in candlesticks, Lori used an enormous “Voluspa” candle in a pink textured hobnail holder to layer in a soft airy scent to the room.
And on the perimeter, she used Aura digital frames, which showcased a rotating display of photos to add movement and a nod to technology. How much fun would it be to add one of these at your next dinner party, uploaded with precious memories of family and friends?
Lori believes that this dressy tablescape would lend itself beautifully to a city loft or modern apartment. The opulent dinnerware would be a luxe backdrop to an artfully plated dish of fresh ingredients and bright colors; one to be enjoyed by those who appreciate decadent cuisine and, of course, a stylized food shot on Instagram!
Aside from her current position at Bloomingdale’s White Plains, Lori Gizzarelli has also managed the visual for the Bloomingdale’s Bergen shops at Riverside. Prior experience includes merchandising roles at Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom. Her love of cooking has also led to working as a food stylist. She recently launched her website, www.thegizzcooks.com, on which she shares her healthy, clean, and easy recipes using real ingredients…just the way her grandmother always did. Or follow her on Instagram @gizznyc.
Now that I’ve described all six of these drop-dead gorgeous vignettes, I’ve actually come to the conclusion that “Art of the Table” probably doesn’t do justice to these designers, since their work is so much more that mere tablescapes: they are actually carefully executed environments, informed by fantasy back stories, culled from their fertile imaginations. Stay tuned for the New York City Art of the Table, which will be held in November. For additional information on tabletop items used for Art of the Table, email: whiteplainsRSVP@bloomingdales.com. Click here to see the full album of photos from the opening event.
This post was written by senior designer, Paulette Gambacorta. Paulette has been designing kitchens with Bilotta for over 25 years.
Categories: Art of the Table | Bloomingdale's | Home Decor | Table Top | Westchester HOME