Tuesday, April 15, 2008

John Stefanidis and his Terrific Table Settings

John Stefanidis is truly a master of design. What appeals to me about his work is that he mixes the traditional with the contemporary with aplomb. But what you may or may know is that he is also quite skilled at setting a beautiful and gracious table. With an eye for detail, Stefanidis can create sophisticated table settings for a home in Belgravia as well as charming, casual tableaux for lunch at a farmhouse (a chic farmhouse, mind you).

Stefanidis was kind enough to share with us some photos of his various table settings. He also listed information pertaining to the flatware, glassware, fabrics, etc. I know that this is very helpful to me as I tend to study photos like these- with my magnifying glass of course!

And just to see if you're on your toes, John thought it would be fun to present us with a quiz on the image at top. Well, I failed the quiz. I only answered two questions correctly. Hopefully, you'll fare better than I. (And I won't make you wait until tomorrow for the answers. I've included them at the very end of the post.)

Q: What is the base of the table made of?

Q: What is the table top made of?

Q: What are the cushions on the ballroom chairs called?

Q: Where are the lettuce leaf centrepiece and matching plates made?

Q: Where was the silver woven bread basket made?

Q: Who made the champagne and white spiral water glasses?

Q: Walls- marble or faux?

Dramatic Dining on the East Coast
Original 19th c. Dufour wallpaper depicting Telemachus on the island of Calypso
Fibre optic lighting illuminates the walls
Pull-up blinds in unlined eau-de-nil taffeta with knife-pleated frills
Chairs covered in raised velvet stripe
Antique silver candlesticks
English silver cutlery and china

18th Century House in London
John Stefanidis designed round table painted to look like parchment
Cy Twombly Painting. *Stefanidis writes that "one should not turn away from contemporary art in all its manifestations but incorporate it in one's life"
Rug: pink Spanish with Arabic inscription
Centrepiece: Indonesian bowl- container for rice and condiments used for taking offerings to a temple
Glasses: 19th c. French with gilt decoration
Plates: Wedgwood
Boxes: Indian

Dual Purpose Area
Stefanidis designed table: low oak side table is hydraulically controlled so that it can be raised for eating. Geometrical veneer patterns.
Banquette seating stretches across and fills the alcove to maximise the seating area.
Table set with chop sticks and china spoons for a Japanese meal. Black and red place settings reinforce the oriental theme.
Silver shells.

Country Breakfast in Dorset
Tablecloth- blue and white striped ticking
Blue and white Spode table setting
Polished cherrywood top on slatted radiator cover used as sideboard
Silver coffee pots
Blue and white Chinese plates and bowls in bookcase
Venetian glasses with blue spiral design
Stefanidis designed chair with "Scritch-Scratch" fabric loose covers

Farmhouse Lunch
Crisp white linen tablecloth with pulled thread work design
Plates- bespoke designed by Millington-Drake
Stefanidis designed chair with "Scritch-Scratch" fabric loose covers
Venetian glassware
Brick flooring
19th c. nursery clock
Tall storage cupboard for china and glass
Antique straw beehive

Stylish Dining in Belgravia
Stefanidis designed oval terracotta red lacquer dining table; the oval shape allows an additional two guests to be seated than if the table was circular.
Antique silver candlesticks
Stencilled walls with design inspired by the pattern on a Japanese kimono
Stefanidis candlestick lamp
Antique glassware
Silk beige and brown striped curtains with attached fringe pelmets
Lacquered sideboard with display of Chinese plates

Caribbean Dining Pavilion
Glass sliding doors and pinoleum blinds to protect guests from the wind and sun.
Table top made of cement hammered to look like jet black slate. The base is a cement drum with a pebble inlay.
Cane chairs with braided rawhide
Centrepiece with bougainvillea and jasmine flowers
Plates: Leaf design from Tiffany
Cutlery: Bamboo design

Al Fresco Dining
Circular table covered in Stefanidis designed fabric- "Stripes"
Brown terracotta plates from Este in Italy
Venetian glassware with red spiral design
Centrepiece: pink pelargonium 'Milden'
Canvas umbrella
Garden seats: Stefanidis design in naturally weathered iroko
Basket weave tiled terrace

Answers to the quiz:
A: Rusticated cement and pebbles
A: Polished Purbeck stone
A: Buttoned squabs
A: Florida
A: Mexico
A: Venini
A: Faux- invented marble in tones of grey and lilac


  1. Well, I absolutely love the color of the button squabs contrasted with the the vivid green lettuce centerpiece and plates, and the finishes of the chairs, table etc.

  2. Courtney- Me too! That is one of my favorite photos. And I didn't know those cushions were called "button squabs" either.

  3. Well, at least I passed the squab cushion part of the test!
    "The thinnest form of seat cushion is a pancake squab,which is really a pad little thicker than the cord or piping used to edge it,and it is often float-tufted. This is the usual form of squab for a chair with a rush seat."
    Quote from John Fowler, "English Decoration in the 18th Century"

  4. Toby- Very helpful. Now, do we call it that here in the States?

  5. Anonymous12:04 PM

    The chairs in that first picture--they appear to be the universal catering chairs for some reason.


  6. I got squabs! and faux, that's about all, pretty lame. My favorite picture is the lunch set up in the old country house. I love that house!! I wonder if the outdoors lunch was set up in the garden of his country house too? probably. Wonderful post, just wonderful! as always, of course.

  7. I have my book club at my house next month, so this is very inspiring! I will have to start planning.

  8. PT- I love bamboo ballroom chairs!! But you're right, you usually see them in gold or silver :)

  9. Joni- Good for you for getting the squab answer! I think that question stumped most people.

    Katie- Good luck on it! I'm sure it will look great!

  10. Anonymous9:32 PM

    Basic design failure. I only got the walls and tabletop. But I really want to hear more about that fiber optic lighting. It looks invisible.

  11. Balsam- Join the club- you and I answered the same two questions correctly. Oh well! I think that fiber optic lighting sounds really interesting too.

  12. What fun, although I think I only got 1 right! Great timing too...I have to dress a showflat and do the table settings - something that is not my forte, so thanks for the inspiration!!

  13. What a great post Jennifer and fun too!!

  14. I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who studies photographs like these with a magnifying glass. For the designers featured out there? Yes. Yes, we do. I find the photos to be not only inspirational, but also an education, and in this piece you've combined both, so kuddos.

    I've been a huge fan of Venini glassware for some time. I was lucky to attend a lecture once from a master glassblower of Venini. They have quite a history.

    P.S. I didn't know squabs, but I actually purchased some of those chairs when I was starting out as a means of having elegance at low cost. My mother made the squabs from this French manufactured paisley she had left from some project.

    Thank you for featuring Mr. Stefanidis' work.

  15. Fun posting -- and informative too! Didn't know the formal name of the chair cushions -- and kept thinking that "squab" was a type of game bird! Silly me! LOVE the farmhouse table in Dorset set for the luncheon -- crisp, inviting and charming! Thanks for sharing!

    Jan at Rosemary Cottage

  16. aHA! I googled "squab" -- and it is indeed a type of young game pigeon -- raised for it meat -- as well as a type of cushion or even (according to some online sources) a type of sofa? Odd -- but true! I knew my days reading romance novels under a flashlight would come in handy someday! ((thinking of the notorious very late-night "supper" offered by the notorious hero .... or villain! -- to the innocent heroine) LOL!

    Jan at Rosemary Cottage who was amazed to learn that there are farmers in California who raise "squabs"

  17. Anonymous9:53 AM

    I'm on a search for the spiral patterned venetian glassware - inspired by this very designer! Where can I get them?

  18. Anon- I've seen them at various shops/sites through the years. I think Vivre used to carry them. Also, you might try Neiman Marcus. I'll do a bit of searching and will report back.