Dream of a summer day: tableware for picnics and outdoor banquets

Now that the weather has improved, I look forward to many picnics, drinks, lunches and dinners in our garden. Any advice on finding the best dishes?

After a gloomy May, I couldn’t be more excited to eat out. “Dining in the open air” seems rather grand. Yes, I like the idea of ​​a midsummer banquet under the stars, trestle tables filled with summer produce.

But I find it’s often the smallest moments that give the most pleasure: rushing into the garden in my pajamas as soon as I wake up, cup of tea in hand, desperate to check the roses; a gin before supper on folding chairs among the nasturtiums and sweet peas, the sound of clinking ice cubes and the song of birds floating in the air.

Hot pottery splash jug

Of course, for those of us based in the UK, summer weather can be precarious, so it’s always worth making the most of the sun when it deigns to grace us with its rays. I’m all for whatever you already have in the cupboards, but it helps, I think, to have a good dinnerware and glassware kit that is more durable than your standard staples.

Also, avoiding the practicality, we have to celebrate this summer, even if we end up only being able to rejoice in our back gardens. I advise you to take out your best plates and set your summer table in style.

Eat Me Dinner Plate

The Eat Me Dinner Plate

I am a fan of Liberty’s current tableware range, and in particular two colorful brands stand out: Hot Pottery and Vaisselle. Hot pottery is a London-based ceramic company specializing in traditional splashes, handcrafted by artisans in Puglia. I’ve always liked the splash, but the usual range of colors available leaves me a little bored. Hot Pottery, on the other hand, splashes all kinds of fun colors on plates, dishes, and bowls: orange, lilac, green.

Dishes, also based in London, produces its ceramics in Spain. I love his Eat me plate, which is painted with a 16th century Spanish-inspired pomegranate motif in an incredibly bright shade of lemon yellow.

Lisa Corti tablecloth

Tablecloth by Lisa Corti

For picnics, I want enamel dishes. Look at Oxford Objects of use, a modern hardware store that sells everyday household tools, conscientiously sourced from around the world. It has a particularly excellent range of E-mail, all made in Ukraine. I love the cups, jugs and bowls, which come in a variety of great colors, are dishwasher safe and should, I imagine, survive even the most rowdy summer picnics.

If you’re planning on having fun outdoors, Objects of Use has plenty of other cool stuff (useful, yes, but fun and unique too): pale blue storm lanterns of Germany, campfire tripods and Dutch ovens go with them, bowling games made in the lumber shops of the village of Botton in the North York Moors National Park.

These are made by the community managed wood or wood recycling program. The Carpentry Shop is one of the oldest workshops in Botton, a Camphill center founded in 1955 to provide supportive housing options for adults with learning disabilities and other special needs.

Objects Inanimate glassware

Vintage glassware from Objects Inanimate

What else? Lisa Corti, the Milan-based home textiles department store, designs beautiful, colorful pieces that are block-printed in India. The brand is particularly known for its tablecloths. I like this Tiger flower design a lot: a riot of blue and yellow flowers and lilac leaves on a dull orange background. Just the ticket for a summer lunch table.

When it comes to glassware, think vintage. I like old lemonade sets, like the ones available at Inanimate objects in Manhattan. I am a big fan of this new online store. Its website states that owners like to think that used items have soul and stories to tell, and that they collect and play with styles, colors and eras. All high up in my street.

Svenskt Tenn Tray

Birch veneer tray by Jean-Philippe Demeyer for Svenskt Tenn

There is nothing better than a tray loaded with drinks at the foot of a tree, or a basket filled with strawberries in the tall grass, à la Charles and Sebastian in Brideshead revisited. I looked at the Belgian interior designer Jean-Philippe Demeyer’s new birch veneer top for the Swedish brand Svenskt Tenn. It’s a riff on its modern classic design of various eyes illustrated on glittering gold fabric.

Speaking of picnic baskets, any old one will do. I’ve bought several charming and run down rattan versions on eBay in the past, one with wine compartments and two large enough to house a five-course dinner.


Willow basket by Marni Market

I have my eye on an upgrade though: a Willow issue from Marni, the Italian fashion label, which recently launched Marni market, a collection of limited edition home accessories at Matches Fashion on Carlos Place in Mayfair. The basket has black, red and blue sections and is probably the fanciest basket I have ever come across. All I want to do this summer is fill this cute basket with baguettes and sparkles and stroll to the nearest river. Cin-cin!

If you have a question for Luke about design and stylish living, email him at [email protected]. Follow him on Instagram @lukeedwardhall

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