Spring not only brings with it warmer weather, but also the chance to embrace outdoor entertaining at home. And, while large-scale gatherings may not yet be on the cards, hosting smaller groups outside is not only a safe way to see friends and loved ones—it’s also a very welcome one. So, from designer tableware to gorgeous glassware, we’ve rounded up five items that’ll help elevate any occasion and make a grand welcome for your guests.
At Your Service
Butler’s trays, or tables as they were originally known, were developed in England in the mid-1700s, and were a staple of the country estate. Now homewares company Côco Gin has launched four lacquered versions that are handcrafted in Vietnam using a 100-day long, 32-step process that includes building up more than 20 layers of liqueur resin extracted from cashew nut shells.
The trays are then etched, painted, and accented in metallic leaf. Designs include Étoile, a map of the stars, Poison, a bold red striped design comprising drawings of exotic birdlife, and Casati, with a maze design inspired by Marchesa Lui sa Casati, who used to promenade her pet cheetahs through a maze in Venice.
Ishkar was set up to champion craft from conflict-affected countries such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Yemen, and works with local artisans to offer tableware, homeware, textiles, and jewelry to a global audience.
“Craft is alchemy,” says Edmund le Brun, who founded Ishkar with Flore de Taisne. The idea for the company came after the pair, who were working in Afghanistan, met glassmaker Ghulam Sekhi and learned that his industry was under threat. The glassware on Ishkar’s site is all hand-blown by Sekhi, and includes tumblers and bowls, each with their own shape and color variations.
“Use regularly, celebrate often, and pass down the good stuff,” is Elizabeth Lake’s mantra. Launched in 2020, the company sources the linens for its napkins and placemats from Belgium, Italy, and Ireland. These are then hand-stitched by artisans on the Portuguese island of Madeira.
Lily Lanahan, the brains behind the company, says a love of old and beautiful things led her to launch a tabletop collection that would “honor centuries-old techniques while speaking to the modern host.” Napkin designs include Indian Tulip and Matisse, with coordinating placemats also available.
When Texas tax expert Ken Horwitz isn’t dealing with financial matters, you’ll most likely find him at home in his kitchen, entertaining his passion for cooking. “My approach to cooking is really an extension of what I do in my professional practice. I solve problems,” he says. “One of the ‘problems,’ at least in my house, is how to convert recipes so that they are kosher, but without damage to the original recipes’ flavor and texture.”
Horwitz now shares the best of his problem-solving in Deep Flavors—A Celebration of Recipes for Foodies in a Kosher Style. Reworked dishes include Southern cornbread, Cuban blackbean salad, egg salad, and sourdough pancakes.
Eye to Eye
Few home brands are as instantly recognizable, or as adept at making a statement while entertaining, as Fornasetti. The Italian company dates back to the 1950s when artist Piero Fornasetti began putting his designs on finely crafted furniture and accessories.
The company is best known for its Tema e Variazioni designs—portraits of opera singer Lina Cavalieri that grace everything from plates to trays and umbrella stands. The singer’s mouth and eyes also feature in these Occhio e Bocca glasses, which come in a set of six.
Banner image: Boutique tabletop brand Elizabeth Lake’s hand-stitched napkins and placemats