Special Events
Tabletop Gallery 2007

Tabletop Gallery 2007

TABLETOPS UNDER $1,000 EACH

“TOUR DE CHEF”

Designs By C.P. Ross, Fayetteville, N.C.; 910/481-9905; www.cprossdesigns.com

“The biggest challenge for us was the selection of a theme. We wanted to use a product that would inspire another direction for event use and decided to use a wallpaper border for a base. We checked out countless wallpaper books looking for the perfect inspiration and finally found our ‘chef’ wallpaper.

The gregarious bicycling chefs were just what we wanted. Since they seemed to be touring, ‘Tour de Chef’ was the perfect name for our design. We liked our wallpaper border so much that we decided to integrate it into the design in as many places as possible. We used it on the backs of the chairs as an accent to our chair ties and brought the visual up by using it on the container for the centerpiece. We also watermarked the border as the background for our escort cards and wine labels. We were able to find inexpensive chef mugs, plates, kitchen utensils, and salt and pepper shakers. We found small wooden boxes with glass lids and put the salt and pepper shakers inside for our favors. We purchased miniature rolling pins and put labels on them with our guests' names.

Our biggest splurge was the water glasses hand-painted by a local artist. Our favorite part of the design was the presentation of a small saute pan for our bread and butter plate. We filled the pan with dried black-eyed peas and used an artificial roll as a menu holder and a round scoop of yellow foam on a spatula for the butter patties.” — Cynthia P. Ross and April A. Trew

VENDORS BBJ Linen, 615/933-6944; Classic Party Rentals, 310/328-5060; Empire Distributors, 951/232-6731; Mayesh Wholesale Florist, 888/462-9374

“AFRICAN BEAUTY”

Dressed Up Tables and Events, Palmdale, Calif.; 661/406-5320; www.dresseduptables.com

“The inspiration for ‘African Beauty’ was {co-owner Shola's} African heritage and the request from the public for things ‘ethnic.’ In addition, the past year has shown the evolution from muted tabletop decorations to bright and bold colors.

The challenges were almost immediate. The chosen fabric was not available as a table linen, and there was nothing close to it. As a new, small business we did not have an in-house sewing or design department, and so it had to be contracted out. Luckily, one of the manufacturers we regularly purchase linen from agreed to sew the linen using the fabric we provided. The second challenge came after we received word that we had been chosen as finalists in the competition. Our artistic rendition of the table used banquet tables, but we were told that the tables provided were round. It posed a problem with the centerpiece in that we had to change the centerpiece design so every guest could see the design.

Our final challenge came on the day of the event, when the overlay did not fit as we had envisioned. As good Girl Scouts we came prepared. We had brought two overlays and so we immediately changed the design using both overlays to achieve the overhang we desired.” — Shola Ayodele and Amy Viele

VENDORS Dressed Up Tables and Events (linen, china, glassware, flatware), 661/406-5320

“DESERT CHIC”

Named winner in this category by members of the Special Events Magazine Advisory Board.

Fiore Designs, Studio City, Calif.; 818/980-6410; www.fioredesigns.com

“‘Desert Chic’ arose from the concept of transforming a centerpiece into a full table runner, encompassing both high and low natural elements. Rather than possessing a single focal point, the tablescape was balanced and visually intriguing, incorporating various textures such as sand, river rocks, succulent blooms, miniature orchid plants and hints of delicate branches. The design was technically challenging but accomplished by creating a 7-inch-wide shallow ‘channel’ between two 8-foot tables. Varieties of air plants, kale, orchid blossoms, moss and desert grasses were delicately woven between and among natural-colored driftwood. Gemstones rested in the sand and spilled onto the table in order to camouflage the channel. Tabletop accessories included copper silk napkins resting on square frosted sea glass chargers, sleek silver flatware and subtle glass stemware, all placed atop a copper-colored silk table linen, providing a striking visual contrast. Dark mahogany chiavari chairs with matching copper chair pads were placed around the table. Accessories were kept minimal to emphasize the centerpiece, while ribbon trim, amethyst stones and fresh purple wildflower blooms adorned each napkin, synchronizing the design aspects.” — Jennifer Katz

VENDORS Classic Party Rentals (linen, flatware, stemware, chairs), 310/202-0011; Fiore Designs (floral design), 818/980-6410

“THE VALLEY OF THE KINGS”

Joanne Hulme's Creativity Inc., Philadelphia; 908/878-2244

“Inspired by the King Tut exhibit coming to Philadelphia and a love for archeology, I created the tabletop ‘The Valley of the Kings.’ I am constantly searching for ways to twist a theme, and I wanted to do a trapunto linen treatment — a quilting ‘stitch and stuff’ method — that seemed a great way to create hieroglyphics! This would give me a bas-relief, carved look.

The rest of the design came together quickly, with a 1-foot tabletop riser of ‘excavation sites’ that a dining guest could unearth relics from. The really fun elements came in the creation of the pyramids. My first thought and final decision was to make clear plexiglass pyramids with interior chambers. Shipping them individually was too expensive, so a stack of four arrived undone. At 1 p.m. the day of the contest, my associate, Kate Coots, glued interior chambers into the pyramids as we worked upside down with pieces of terra cotta foam core, which we never really had time to play with. We were extremely pleased with the right-side-up results!

Steps connecting the chambers and tiny urns, goblets, plates, coins and other items came from the dollhouse section of the local craft store, and the tiny skulls came from a Halloween necklace — on sale in January — which I cut apart.

The table settings were ornate crystal and gold, juxtaposed against the plexiglass pyramids and the sandy tabletop. A load of snakes on the floor, a Pharaoh's headdress and a menu based on food that the Egyptians actually ate were some of the final details. I created this table especially for the Tabletop Gallery competition, and I loved it — and it seemed the attendees did also!” — Joanne Hulme

VENDORS Unique Tabletop Rental (gold pieces), 800/709-7007

TABLETOPS $1,000 AND ABOVE EACH

“TEAM-BUILDING AL FRESCO”

Bravo Productions, Long Beach, Calif.; 562/435-0065; www.bravoevents-online.com

“As often happens, we were working on a team-building event and company picnic last summer. We were also brainstorming ideas for a tabletop around the same time. Two things immediately came to mind. One: Team-building involves working with a group of entities that may perform different tasks and possess special skills, but they work harmoniously for a common goal. Two: Picnics are fun; however, one of the greatest concerns in planning this type of function — besides possible rain — is identifying any bug problems.

We also wanted to create a centerpiece that was amusing, whimsical, not easily duplicated by just purchasing items and out of the box. The centerpiece was also inspired by the importance of thinking ‘green’ whenever possible — from protecting nature's wildlife to taking steps to be more energy-efficient. A picnic is a celebration of the great outdoors.

That said, we combined these thoughts, and the outcome was ‘Team-building Al Fresco.’ Ladybugs, dragonflies, June bugs, butterflies, a spider, ants, grasshoppers and beetles created a bucket brigade to transport picnic fare to the upper reaches of an oversize sunflower plant, created from roses and Oncidium orchids.

The intent was to take a more casual approach to a dining theme, whereas many who participate in Tabletop Gallery opt for elegance. We've created tabletops at other TSE shows, and the key is not to look at creating a tabletop with the ultimate goal of winning the competition but to put a signature on your work that separates you from others. It's also easier when you just relax, enjoy the creativity, craft and process, and don't fret about the work generating a sell.” — Greg Jenkins

VENDORS BBJ Linen (chair covers, napkins, base table linen), 310/204-0363; Classic Party Rentals (chairs), 310/202-0011; Ikea (casual flatware, plates, stemware), 310/527-4532; International Event Products (glass leaf plates), 781/341-0929; Mellano & Co. (flowers), 888/635-5266; Party Painters (chair cover appliques), 562/477-5228

“NUBIAN TREASURES”

Geoffrey Gilmore Signature Events, Seattle; 425/488-8171; www.sigevents.com

“‘Nubian Treasures’ is an elegant African-themed table designed to honor my parents' marriage. My mother died of cancer four months before my parents' 50th wedding anniversary. This table is a showcase of some of the elements planned for their anniversary celebration. The theme ‘Nubian Treasures’ refers to our African ancestry through the art pieces and tropical setting, while the traditional styles of the china, cutlery and glassware celebrates our African-American heritage as reminiscent of more formal family dinners and gatherings.

The square table was layered with a bright burnt-orange satin tablecloth adorned with a sheer gold filigree overlay and accented with a partially covering eyelash tiger-print overlay. The traditional place settings consisted of ivory-colored, gold-trimmed china resting atop diamond-cut clear glass chargers that were framed from underneath by glistening gold chargers. The gold-trimmed velum menu cards described an elegant four-course dinner that featured three beloved family dishes.

The multilayered centerpiece started at one end of the table from underneath a custom-made palm tree, extended into the center of the table, and featured wood carvings, masks and feathers coupled with amber jewels to complete the opulent look reminiscent of the celebrated Songhay kingdom.

Under the towering palm tree — constructed from a 10-foot bamboo pole — palm rushes, white orchids, slender coconut leaves accented with cascading berries, and gilded tendrils sprung up in a lush floral garden. Dark brown chiavari chairs were covered in gold crepe fabric and sported a cummerbund of the eyelash tiger-print fabric trimmed with dangling faceted jewels.

The design team for this table included my sister, celebrated florist and designer Greta Gilmore of Altadena, Calif., and my 80-year-old dad, Edward Gilmore.” — Geoffrey Gilmore, CSEP

VENDORS CMC Linen Rentals (chair, table, stemware rental), 818/504-2965; Geoffrey Gilmore Signature Events, 425/488-8171

“SAPPHIRE: THE MOUNTAINS, SKY AND WATER OF LAKE TAHOE”

Named winner in this category by members of the Special Events Magazine Advisory Board.

JCD Atmospheric Studios, Modesto, Calif.; 800/331-6255; www.jcdconcept2000.com

“The idea of ‘Sapphire’ came from an event JCD produced for a casino on the pristine shores of Lake Tahoe. The design, a lounge theme, was straightforward and incorporated blue spandex tablecloths, blue spandex chair covers and a simple cabaret lamp topped with a blue lampshade. Visualizing this simplistic design in such a dramatic setting, I wished to take ‘Sapphire’ to a higher plane and incorporate elements that truly represent the beauty and grandeur of Lake Tahoe.

The styling of this tabletop began with a scroll covered in deep blue velvet. Symbolizing the sky was a unique oversized blue fabric lampshade. A single white light and clear LEDs illuminated the table and created a pattern on the rich fabric of the shade, representing the moon and stars that fill the skies nightly in the majestic Sierras. At the base of the scroll river rocks, moss, blue and green stones, and votives with blue LEDs surrounded floral indigenous to Lake Tahoe. A 54-inch square table raised to bar height and layered with cobalt blue satin lamour, ultramarine and steel crush {linen} reflected the crystal water of the lake. Encircling the table were eight bar-height natural chiavaris to which were added swags of ultramarine crush sashes to represent ripples on the water. Completing the table styling were silver, green and frosted glassware with silver braided flatware — a tribute to the lushness of the forest and meadows that encompass the lake.

The table represented Lake Tahoe with all of the aspects of the sky, water and mountains.” — Brian Bertolucci

VENDORS Classic Party Rentals (glassware, chairs, tables), 209/524-1966; Creative Coverings (linen), 877/410-6367; Infinite Creations (floral), 209/548-0714; JCD Atmospheric Studios, 800/331-6255

“SINNER'S DINNER”

Planning the Globe, Mount Pleasant, S.C.; 843/971-6034; planningtheglobe.com

“A devious table design was born and inspired by the combined thought processes of the Planning the Globe team one dark and misty evening back in 2006. Fueled by a few bottles of deep ruby-red Hungarian Bull's Blood wine, the creative juices flowed into a frenzy of artistic design — the only restriction to our enthusiasm being the maximum 50-word description.

Next, an artist was commissioned to bring our creation to life. A fire pit; Gothic flatware and cutlery; upside down candelabras; deep, rich chair covers; fire-retardant fabrics; silver decorative pieces from a bygone age; and the creme de la creme — custom DVDs displaying the seven deadly sins and the evening's menu to a background of haunting music. Ensuring that if you were bound for hell, one of the seven deadly sins would send you there.

Ah, the challenges! When would they end? Would our table meet the fire code standards? Would our fabrics pass the fire-retardant test? Would our fabrics arrive on time? (Actually, they didn't arrive until after the judging had taken place!) Would our custom-made table be allowed onto the conference floor? Would we have enough insurance coverage for our silver? Would there be security at night to protect our masterpiece? Would the wind from a service door affect our hanging candelabras? And yes, the greatest challenge of all — would show management get what we were trying to do?

A resounding yes to all of the above!

Alas, while we did not win (and bravo to the winner), we can say with pride that we did, by far, receive the heaviest traffic for the rest of the week. Was it because of our interesting design? Or were visitors hungry to discover which seat they would take at our most deadly table? That is for you to decide!” — Chris Greenslade

VENDORS Chameleon Chair Collection (chairs), 310/677-2500; Dazian Fabrics (custom tablecloth), 877/432-9426 or 877/232-9426; First Generation Productions (printing and poster design); Snyder Event Rentals (tabletop elements and pretesting), 800/932-5381; The Charleston Silver Lady (silver); Tiger Lily Florist (black roses)

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