How To's

Modern Dining: The Art Of The Meal

For iconic designer Ray Eames, the dinner table was more than just a place to dine. As an artist, the dining room table was Ray’s canvas, or rather her tableau. You too can become a masterful host like Ray Eames with these tips to create your own visually pleasing and surprisingly simple table settings a la Ray Eames herself.

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If you’re hosting at any time, do yourself a favor and follow the lead of Ray Eames when hosting a dinner party. While Ray Eames didn’t coin the word “tablescape,” she might as well have. A pioneer of creating the perfect modern tablescape, Ray did what many of us would be unable to during a time when Pinterest or the DIY Network wasn’t even a thought. But even more impressive, was her ability to transform a dining table into a work of art. Designing unique and beautiful table settings, Ray Eames left a lasting impression on her guests. Here are a few bits of Ray Eames tablescape inspiration for your next dinner get together.

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Make Your Guests Feel Welcome

This should be your priority number one. If your guests are showing up without a place to sit, you’ve got a problem. Nor do you want everyone to feel cramped and like they can barely take a sip of wine without bumping the arm of the person next to them. For a comfortable and pleasant meal, ensure that your table can accommodate all your guests as well as all of the place settings. Otherwise, your presentation will be lost with your guests.

Pear Lamp from George Nelson Bubble Lamps, Nelson™ X-Leg Table with Laminate Top By George Nelson, from Herman Miller, Eames® Molded Fiberglass Side Chair with Dowel Base By Charles + Ray Eames, from Herman Miller
Pear Lamp from George Nelson Bubble Lamps, Nelson™ X-Leg Table with Laminate Top + Eames® Molded Fiberglass Side Chair with Dowel Base from Herman Miller

The Nelson™ X-Leg Table with Laminate Top offers plenty of space to create a tablescape worthy of Ray. Paired with a set of Eames® Molded Fiberglass Side Chairs as well as a George Nelson Pear Lamp, and you’ve got the base for hosting through every season and celebration.

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Candles, Candles, Candles

Candles are like instant atmosphere. By simply placing a few candles in varying heights around, like Ray Eames did here, you’ll have height and dimension to your tablescape. Not only will they add the most gorgeous glow, but they bring a sense of warmth and coziness.

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Mix Things Up

Ray Eames wasn’t afraid to surprise her dinner guests. Pritzker Prizewinning architect Kevin Roche recounted a dinner at the Eames house in the documentary “American Masters.” He spoke of mismatched plates, and what Ray called a “visual dessert,” or a presentation of a bowl of flowers. While Roche wasn’t pleased at the time and promptly wen out for ice cream afterwards, the  memory stayed with him.

So take a page out of Ray’ playbook by embracing the unexpected and mixing things up. Why, it might just be the thing that sets your dinner party apart from the rest.

For More Inspiration:

Rachel Kemp

Rachel Kemp

Rachel is one of the Merchandise Managers for YLiving with a long career in merchandising and is thrilled to finally be working through a channel that supports her passion for modern design. As a mother of two toddlers, she is practical, design driven in her decisions with furnishing her home and tempted daily with the endless options of home upgrades.

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