Fields of Gold

I visited my parents’ home today to pick daffodils (the daffodil window is only about a week long but definitely my favorite seasonal tradition). Much to my surprise, there are some incredible things happening in these 200-year-old daffodil beds. After tens of decades of cross-pollination and just a few years of bee-keeping (by my father), I am seeing species I’ve never seen in all my years of meticulous (and admittedly obsessive) harvesting.

The Tables Have Turned…

Last night I attended my favorite annual DIFFA (Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS) event, Dining by Design, hosted by Architectural Digest. It’s an intimate and lively party where internationally celebrated designers and local talent create inspiring three dimensional dining installations. Nestled up against Architectural Digest’s Home Design Show at Pier 94, this oasis of extraordinary dining environments sets the stage for five days of fundraising.

Every year, I look forward to the the feast of visual and culinary inspiration that is DBD, and I was not disappointed. Chef Geoffrey Zakarian of The Lambs Club had crazy-delicious bites in Chinese soup spoons—one with a scallop and another with an english pea puree—and Effen Vodka was serving up delectable cucumber-vodka tonics. Tonight will be the second part of DBD: a $500/ticket gala dinner where attendees will dine in the dreamed-up spaces and then dance the night away.

The installations will be on display to the public today through Sunday. Tickets are $25 and benefit DIFFA.

Here’s a sneak peek…

I loved Design Within Reach’s (table above) miniatures (below) at each setting!
Loved the chairs at Domoore Designs table (below)

The equestrian references all over Eric Warner’s table (below) were clever and chic. Note bridal gear around light and hanging stirrup votives and I LOVE LOVE LOVED the plates! Side note: good use of Baccarat glassware.

Goil Amornvivat (you may recognize him from Bravo’s Top Design) & Tom Morbitzer’s (above) totally CNC-cut setting (below)—with American and Thai (Goil was born in Bangkok) references—was very cool. See their Frenchies in the background under the rainbow. Godzilla: very funny cliche reference. Love it.

Jonathan Adler did a stellar job with Kravet‘s table (below). I love his use of bathroom fixtures (?) as handles on the back of each section of the table. The backs of each seat are the walls of the unit.

Had a blast (drinking La Crema wine, a hugely-generous sponsor of the event) with friend, Marc Blackwell, at his gorgeous bar-height table (below). I particularly loved his filament fixture that ran the length of the table.

Marimekko’s wild and fabulous table was a serious show-stopper (below). LOVE!

Mark Cunningham‘s table (below) was definitely one of my favorites of the night. From the slatted walls to the leather chargers, it was warm, handsome and well-built. Absolutely gorgeous!

My husband, Ryerson Kipp (above), of The DSM Group admiring Maya Romanoff‘s golden palace of a table. When gabbing with (the handsome and elegant) Vicente Wolf, he said that—while he did not do a table this year—he helped these guys with their installation.
I thought the flooring (below) was made of placemats (which would be a really cool idea for a small space!), but I think they are samples of Romanoff surfaces.

And below is my favorite of the evening was this gem by Shawn Henderson Interior Design

New York Time’s table by DDC (below) was was a good example of how sometimes having strong pieces that speak for themselves is enough. The Baccarat chandelier is amazing and I love the tall Marcel Wanders piece in the middle. His collections for Baccarat are pure brilliance.

Pratt Institute
‘s table (below) wasn’t the most aspirational of spaces but it had a few really interesting things going on. Note the woven tabletop.

The Ralph Lauren team knocked it out of the park again with their super luscious lodge that was just the right mix of horn, fur and fire (below).

This table by RYDC was really fun. I loved the contrast of crustacean-laiden coral with high-shine lucite chairs (below).

This strung-out table (below) was by no means cozy, but it was BEAUTIFUL and so photogenic! The reflection of the long, narrow fixture in the tabletop was outrageous and all the materials used really spoke to one another. I think this is a good example of a wildly successful installation for this kind of event. Some tables are amazing in person but terrible in photos. This one was striking in person and even more so on film.

Swarovski’s table (below) was wild with wrap-around flat screens playing sparkly, blue video. At each place-setting: platinum Aegean china by always-ultra-glamorous (yet practical) L’Objet.

I really loved the floral arrangements from Maya Romanoff’s table (below) and Liebherr’s table (far below). Very fresh and springy!


This year, curb the urge to use your old red and green holiday decorations. Instead, keep it chic. Use these entertaining ideas to help break your old habits and embrace a new palette
Story, Styling and Stationery by me, Meredith McBride Kipp
Floral Design by Anne Miller  ·  Photography by Roey Yohai
Flanking doorways and the fireplace with preserved juniper trees will make a large room feel more intimate. Potted topiaries like these are also a chic alternative to a traditional Christmas tree and a great solution for small spaces.Add dimension and a punch of color at each table setting with a sculptural piece of seasonal produce like an artichoke or pomegranate.Adorn the table with a few beautiful, unexpected objects, like these antique silver pheasant salt and pepper shakers that I found at an estate sale.

‘Tis the season to be jolly, and setting the tone for such a sentiment is all about creating great atmosphere. When it comes to holiday decorating, the hardest part is staying away from the expected. Resist the temptation to use all of your saved decorations from years past. Instead, try something new: Pick a color palette and stick to it. What doesn’t fit the bill goes back to the attic or gets a fresh coat of paint. This year, think white. White is the epitome of modernity, elegance and balance. Mixing snow white with traces of green, black and silver is on trend and très chic.

To bring greenery and life into your dining room, New Jersey florist extraordinaire Anne Miller of The Little Flower Shoppe in Ridgewood recommends hanging an oversize wreath. Decorate it with items found in nature such as pinecones, acorns and berries to enchant guests. Flank the hearth and doorway with preserved juniper topiary trees for an instant dose of warmth and intimacy.

For your holiday table, choose crisp white linens and layer them with a wide, black ribbon or runner down the center of the table and across at each place setting. This will add dimension to the table and visually anchor each setting. When it comes to flatware, glassware and china, you don’t need to have the best; you just need to know how to use what you’ve got. Don’t be afraid to mix like-colored pieces—whites with off-whites, stainless steel with silver and mercury glass or crystal with glass. (For a lesson from the experts in mixing it up, stop into Michael C. Fina in NYC) Place your white china on a clear, silver or white charger—layering adds dimension to the table. To add sparkle, use clear glassware and stemware and mix styles to vary the height and look. For centerpieces, Miller says to keep the botanicals simple and seasonal. The velvety texture of Vendela roses and silvery grey Tilandisa is warm and wintry and helps create the mood for a luxurious cold-weather soiree. For an intimate dinner party, keep the arrangements under 12 inches high so as not to disrupt the festive repartee.

Bring the black-and-white theme from your mailed invitation through to the place card and menu—it’s really chic and your guests will appreciate the detail. Keep the design simple and modern, and make things easy for yourself by having your local stationer do them for you. Place a menu on top of each napkin, then wrap the napkin and menu with ribbon or a paper strip that matches the invite. Top it all off with a fresh artichoke to add unexpected texture, dimension and a punch of color.

Lastly, make sure the lighting is just right—if you don’t have dimmers on your fixtures, just use candles (always unscen-ted around food) aided by the glow from an illuminated room nearby. Cluster large mercury glass pieces and other silver objects together to bring a little sparkle to darker areas of the room. Carry elements of this onto your table by way of mercury glass votives and a few small silver objects, and you’ll have plenty of sparkle to go around during this festive season.

1 The Little Things
  Something simple like a sachet full of lavender or a bag of homemade cookies makes a nice gift for your guests. Tie it off with a ribbon and an ornament and place it on their chairs.
2 Get Centered  A dramatic flower arrangement is a great way to wow your guests. You can bring your own vases to the florist and have him or her create arrangements that work for your table. If flowers are out of the budget, cluster like-colored objects of varying heights in the center of the table.
3 Keep it Coming  Always keep your guests’ water and cocktail glasses filled—your service is very important and much appreciated.
4 Put it on Paper  Despite the multitude of e-mail and Web-based invite options these days, it’s a nice gesture to send guests a printed invitation to your party. Use the same style in your place cards and menus to create a consistent theme.
5 Easy Does It  Food, especially desserts, that you can prepare beforehand (or buy) will save you time. French macaroons are always an elegant supplement to your homemade desserts, and they come in a multitude of colors to fit any theme. (Coordinating your food with your color palette will add impact and elegance.)

Click here to download my 2.5-hr Chic Party Playlist (on the iTunes store) to round out the evening. Held together with hints of weighty Bossa Nova, orchestral flair and bluegrass, this sexy, hip (yet classic) mix blends many genres to create the perfect background for an intimate dinner party or a laidback evening of cocktails.

Click here to download a PDF of the story.
Published in the Health&Life family of magazines. Circulation: 275,000

A Succulent Evening

I just went to a fabulous wedding in the Hamptons. The food delicious, the drinks overflowing, the music and lighting just right and the flora… out of this world gorgeous! …yet still laid back.

Magnolia branches clustered throughout the tent created a real-feel forest, while succulent-adorned centerpieces graced long, wood farm tables and clothed rounds (mixed!). And to pull it all together, the up-lighting had leafy gels that cast warm, dreamy shadows on the tent ceiling. Event planning and florals by the amazing Claire Bean.