Since moving back to Manhattan last year I’ve been anticipating summer on the East Cast, from morning walks on the beach near the shore house to long dinners al fresco in the humid summer air. While we’ve been black in Manhattan for almost a month we still make regular visits to the store for dinner every few weeks. My in-laws are both great cooks so during quarantine it was my responsibility to set the table – a task I absolutely love and have continued on subsequent visits. I love bringing special flair to the task, with beautiful glassware, whimsical plates, flowers and table linens.
Just in time for July 4th celebration, this table conjures one of our favorite destinations full of Americana flair – Nantucket Island. From the nautical motifs dancing across these plates, to the beautiful hand blown glassware from Simon Pearce each piece evokes that laid back summer feeling.
I first fell in love with Wedgwood’s “Sailor’s Farewell” collection while having afternoon tea at the Whitby Hotel in New York City. The hotel and china are both designed by Kit Kemp, a London-based interior decorator and co-founder of Firmdale Hotels – known for her whimsical patterns and cheerful color palettes. Within the design, a sailor’s loved-one is seen waving goodbye on a rock with her scarf flying in the wind. The little sketches around the china pieces show the sailors adventures on the high seas both above and below the waterline. His ship sails past whales and merfolk, lighthouses and gulls in search of a faraway desert isle, all reminiscent of Nantucket’s earliest seafaring residents. Fine china that doesn’t take itself too seriously! The theme mixes perfectly with our everyday Nantucket Basket pattern (also by Wedgwood) which evokes the beautiful weave of the island’s most famous handicraft. The woven texture adds subtle flair to the rim of our dinner plates, but is also beautifully manifest in this teapot, styled to look like a lightship basket.
The folk art on the china ties in nicely with the hand blown glassware by Simon Pearce. I had the chance to visit the Corning Museum of Glass last year for a glassblowing demonstration and have been captivated by the process ever since. The pulled-stem technique used on these vintner’s glasses results in a thinner, more lightweight bowl, typical of a classic sommelier’s glass. Simon Pearce worked with a few of their favorite California winemakers to create stemware to appeal to experienced wine tasters and lovers of handblown glass alike. I love the handsome shape of their red and white glasses, and the gentle undulating waves visible from the glassblowing process which sparkle in the sun. Glassware on a table often adds dimension and movement, which is also true of the wavering flame of a candle in a hurricane or the swirl of cabernet as it’s poured from a decanter. I’m hoping we’ll be able to visit the Simon Pearce glassblowing workshop outside Woodstock, Vermont this fall!