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Add a Splash of Colour with Bold Plating this Summer Season

Your guide to setting the scene with dazzling dining this summer

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By Edwain Steenkamp | February 9, 2024 | Design

Clash of the titans

When it comes to presenting bold crockery, it's important to approach your table setting in an equally bold and daring way. Remember, don't let the crockery do all the work. Think along the lines of large floral arrangements, vases and linen in different colours and materials, and cutlery that makes a statement. This way, you're creating a setting that exudes a whimsical and romantic feeling. When in doubt, add more. Be bold, have fun, and infuse the table with character.

Unapologeticaly playful and wildly colourful, this tablescape by Diptyque embodies the summer spirit, with stand out elements like the Spiral drinking glasses. Photography by Celine Saby via Diptyque.


Now, when it comes to making an impact at the table - think ornate designs, bold colours, and delicate trimmings that all exude finesse - china is, and will always be, the definitive tastemaker. In the last decade or so, it has unfairly been associated with stuffy formality and archaic entertaining. But with the right accessories - yes, we're talking over-the-top floral designs, bold linen, and showstopping cutlery - it takes on a new guise entirely.


For those looking for a slightly more durable alternative to china, porcelain may just be the answer. While not always cheaper, it is more widely available, meaning you can reimagine your tablescapes and execute your vision, all in the span of one afternoon.

Carretto Siciliano geometric dinner plate, POR, Dolce & Gabbana. Image: Supplied.


Perhaps the most durable of the materials you could put on the table, stoneware has made an impressive comeback in recent years. With its textural quality - and often hefty proportions - it's ideal for more casual table settings, and works especially well if you anticipate dining outdoors this season. The only drawback is that stoneware is often sold in muted tones, making it one of the less exciting materials this season.

Jenna Clifford 'Midnight Bloom' dinner plate, R679, Yuppiechef.

Unexpected guests

How do you set a truly memorable table? Let's consider colour and texture first. In the coming year, expect fresh takes on previously trending colours; apricot, digital lavender, creamy greens and nature-inspired pastels will make their rounds. But don't let these soft hues wash out your table, add unexpected accent colours and materials; canary yellow, and smouldering orange. Lo introduce texture, consider a few classics like silver and brass tones; and more unusual elements like leather and stone accessories. As you're adding layer upon layer, trust the process.

'Le Jardin' dinner plate, R3 450, Versace. Image: Supplied.

At first, it may feel intimidating to add so much, but when that perfect level of 'extra' has been obtained, it will feel charming as much as it looks playful. When it comes to the natural elements, as with all our table settings this season, we're inspired by a maximilist approach. Divide your flowers and leaves into several smaller bunches and use them to fill every open spot on the table.

Moroccan style dinner plate, R599 for set, Takealot

Your vases needn't match either, in fact - don't let them; an array of vases and drinking glasses will create a truly bohemian flair. Remember, the aim is to create a memorable table setting, not a traditional one, so let your imagination run wild!

Tall tales

Even on the most playful tablescapes, it's important to pay close attention to proportions. How do you go big and bold without blocking people and light? The answer of course, is glass.

Oil Cruet Olive Branch, Le Creuset R799. Image: Supplied.

Jugs, candlestick holders and other centrepieces made of glass will allow you to elevate the setting - quite literally - without creating solid, opaque visual blocks. This is especially beautiful during the day when natural light floods the glass, adding to the overall look and feel of the table. At night however, be aware that glass might not work as well: artificial light may create harsh reflections, which no guest will enjoy. If you're looking at tall decorations, keep foliage slimmer. Thin, young twigs for instance will look chic, as will hardier flowering plants like fynbos (responsibly sourced of course, as all flowers should be).