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Top Tabletop Designers Share Design Inspiration

Top Tabletop Designers Share Design Inspiration


“The Beauty of the Ocean Breeze”

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

Chameleon Chair Collection, Hawthorne, Calif.

The rich array of blues and greens in the ocean inspired her design, notes Teri Rudin, vice president and head designer at Chameleon. “I had also been experimenting with lace, a fashion shout-out of the season,” she adds. “When I put a lace cap over a metallic turquoise cushion, a fish vertebrae pattern emerged, which was so unexpected and so bedazzling.” Her advice: “Start thinking of cushions as another surface of design!” The company's warehouse inspired the table itself — an oversize, curvy mirror. “With some faux painting magic by our in-house expert, the mirror and its ornate pedestal stands also took on the richness of the ocean hues,” Rudin adds. “The one irregular end of the mirror became a receptacle for a slightly tinted and glittered shell collection.”

VENDOR TEAM: Unique Tabletop Rentals, stemware (; Wildflower Linen, chair covers (

CONTACT: 310/973-8200;

“Travel to European Romance”

Weddings from the Heart, Dayton, Ohio

Her dream of visiting Paris was the basic inspiration for this tabletop, notes company principal Jean Neuhart. “But the true ‘aha’ moment of the design came after my husband gave me a photo of the Eiffel Tower for my birthday,” she says. “It's a sepia print in a faux pressed-metal frame and has a distinct antique look.” Anchoring the theme was the centerpiece, which mixed elements including a bust of Michelangelo's David, a mini suitcase and a 30-inch Eiffel Tower. “At each place setting, the theme was evident in the favors/place cards, which were silver-plated luggage tags, and napkin rings, which were Eiffel towers and fleurs-de-lis,” she says.

The design “is ideal for a wedding reception for a couple who wants to stay away from traditional floral or candle centerpieces,” Neuhart adds.

VENDOR TEAM: Ballard Designs, napkin rings (; Classic Party Rentals, plates, glassware, chairs (; Low Price 4 U, David bust (; Prime Time Party Rental, linen, napkins, flatware (

CONTACT: 937/235-2586;

“Sugar Wonderland”

Marayah's Creations, Fresno, Calif.

Company founder Marayah Lane looked within for her design inspiration: “It was my love of sweet treats!” she says. Her tabletop featured a handmade “flower petal cake” centerpiece with an “ice cream” topper and “cupcake” guest favors on pedestals.

All items are available from the company, making the design “perfect for the client who is on the go and wants to offer a unique and tasteful ambience for their special event,” Lane says.

CONTACT: 866/634-4438;

“Summer Solstice”

Artful Parties & Events, Salina, Kan.

“The summer solstice as an outdoor event has wide client appeal,” notes company principal Lou Ann Dunn, MBC. “All people in the northern hemisphere experience it as the longest day of the year. For several days before and after the true solstice, the sun seems to hang in the sky. What better time to entertain? The creative event planner could provide clients a wonderful, memorable event that could range from fun and funky to upscale.”

CONTACT: 985/827-8448;

“Honor Our Troops”

Table Top Fashions, Gibbstown, N.J.

A table design with heart, this entry was inspired by “a deep passion for peace along with a personal expression of gratitude for those who command our military forces,” explains company head Madeline Stevens. Events ideal for the design include military celebrations and receptions along with events with a patriotic theme, she adds.

VENDOR TEAM: Barry Catering, table design (

CONTACT: 856/224-0500;


“Glamour Affair”

Fresh Events Co., South Pasadena, Calif.

This tabletop tells the story of “seduction, glamour and decadence the morning after,” explains company partner Ada Chan. “We were inspired to tell a story with our tabletop — channeling Marilyn Monroe in a modern era, where vintage meets modern. We were inspired by couture fashion, romantic cities like Paris circa Moulin Rouge and by human nature's curious fascination with love and romance.”

The team bowed to practical realities of the venue. “Our initial inspiration included a real fire gently burning through the Girari glass table where there is an opening to create a private, sexy, 360-degree fireplace,” Chan says. “It would be warm yet dangerous if you got too close — just like the romantic affair we tried to depict. In the end, we ended up pulling the fire out for safety and fire marshal reasons and used a group of candles and mirrors instead!”

“We could see this tabletop used for clothing launches, perfume launches and art shows,” Chan says. “Also, it would work for couture designers, artists, intellectuals, well-traveled guests and life-loving spirits in general.”

VENDOR TEAM: Girari, glass and table (; Jill Velez, calligraphy and stationery (; Royal Events, swagging and chandelier (; Town and Country Event Rentals, glassware and plates (

CONTACT: 626/353-6489;

“Marie Antoinette”

Grand Soirees Event Design, Irvine, Calif.

After a “binge” reading biographies of great queens, company principal Linda Ly settled on legendary Marie Antoinette as emblematic of her company's style. Ly strove to include historically accurate design elements on a “sumptuous” backdrop. “I chose to incorporate a croquembouche — the traditional French wedding cake — as a part of the centerpiece design; hung crystals from the centerpiece, alluding to the chandeliers in the Louvre; used the names of the royal family on the place cards; folded the napkins into lilies (the lily is featured in the French royal seal); and embedded feathers amongst the swagging of the table, because Marie Antoinette was often painted with plumes adorning her hair.”

If the table were at a real event — versus one constructed for four days on a trade-show exhibit floor — Ly would make some changes. “There would have been a swag of fresh spray roses on the back of each chair; this was cut from the original design because the table had to stay up for four days,” she says. “The guests would have been greeted with champagne glasses filled with pink bubbly and accented with sugar-coated raspberries.”

VENDOR TEAM: Calligraphy Ink, calligraphy (; Chameleon Chair Collection, chairs (; Classic Party Rentals, tabletop (; Jazz Flowers, floral (; Whimsical Designs, place cards (; Wildflower Linen, linen (

CONTACT: 714/277-7252;

“Viking Dreams”

AOM Events, Miami

“We were inspired by the legends of the valkyries of Valhalla, a warriors' heaven protected by messengers, or angels, who appear to Nordic warriors that aspire to get into Valhalla after dying valiantly in battle,” says Jenny Lynn George, AOM national sales manager. The table represents “the raw elements and natural beauty synonymous with the Viking era, such as precious metals and stones, rocks and flowers.” Specific elements that carried the theme out best, she says, were the tablecloth, made from natural moss and overlaid with fur, the heavy wine goblets set with semiprecious stones, and the Viking ship centerpiece covered in pink and black flowers and riding on a bed of blue hydrangeas simulating a wave.

The design would suit clients such as nautical companies, historical societies and Nordic associations, George says.

CONTACT: 305/759-4444;

“Elegant Tropical Rainforest”

Nesly's Floral Design & Events, Los Angeles

The lush rainforest of Latin America and the colorful costumes of its indigenous people inspired this tabletop, notes company principal Nesly Palacios. “All of the elements that were included in the tabletop design represented facets of nature, from the centerpiece with the tall banana tree surrounded by tropical favorites like the pincushions and orchids, to the moss- and bark-covered flooring that we created,” she notes. “Our table settings were comprised of a feather place mat, pebbled dishware and an exquisite menu card that was created on tree bark, then topped by a beautifully beaded butterfly.”

The table would suit a theme event for a corporate client or a bridal couple “looking to celebrate their nontraditional nuptials,” she notes.

VENDOR TEAM: Chameleon Chair Collection, chairs and chair covers (; Designer Specialty Linens, linen (; Events by JEM, design (; Petalos di Pauli, place cards and menu cards (

CONTACT: 323/232-5500;

“Pompadour 2010”

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

Robert Fountain Event Design, San Francisco

It's all in the mix, notes company founder Robert Fountain. “I love doing expected themes and infusing them with unexpected elements,” he says. “All the items used could have easily been vintage French and would have been very beautiful, but by using modern materials, the look becomes very fun and unexpected.”

He adds, “This design would be perfect for the female executive who is turning a milestone age and wants to throw a decadent party for herself and her friends.”

VENDOR TEAM: Blue Print Studios, custom chairs (; Classic Party Rentals, plates, flatware, glassware (; Fete Accompli, plexiglass candelabras (

CONTACT: 415/934-6767;


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