Monday, April 13, 2015

Jonathan Preece Does It Again

Passover might have ended this past weekend, but it still seems a good time to show photos of a Passover table conceived by Jonathan Preece.  Jonathan, as you will recall, is Creative Director and Special Projects Designer for Bunny Williams Inc. and Bunny Williams Home.  He is also the mastermind behind a number of highly-clever table settings, many of which have appeared previously on my blog.  If you remember those Jonathan Preece-designed tables, then you know that Jonathan draws inspiration from history and the decorative arts, two subjects that certainly influenced the Passover table you see here.

Jonathan's clients, whose Park Avenue apartment was decorated by Bunny Williams, wanted a Passover table that was colorful, unique, child-friendly, and evocative of Damien Hirst's spot paintings.  Keeping in mind both the clients' wishes as well as the meaning of the holiday, Jonathan first settled on a theme for the table: the second plague of Egypt.  According to the Book of Exodus, God unleashed ten plagues against Egypt as a result of the Pharaoh's refusal to free the Israelites from slavery.  The second of the ten plagues involved masses of frogs that emerged from the Nile and overran Egypt.  After the tenth plague, the Pharaoh finally freed the Israelites, an event which is commemorated during Passover.

Of course, considering that this was to be a celebratory table, Jonathan softened the plague theme with whimsy and animation.  Jonathan was reminded of the famous Green Frog Service, which was the Wedgwood china service commissioned by Catherine the Great. The Green Frog pattern features a naively-painted jumping frog within a heraldic emblem, and it was this non-menacing frog that inspired Jonathan's table.  He sought the assistance of his artist friend, Liz Fleri, who made both papier-mâché and ceramic versions of frogs.  Down the center of the table stood the papier-mâché frogs, which were encrusted with Austrian Glass dust, faux cabochons, and glass beads.  (It was both Damien Hirst's bejeweled skull sculptures and Judith Leiber's animal minaudieres that inspired this decorative finish.) 

Nestled between the frogs were ceramic lily pads by Global Views, in which Jonathan planted exotic orchids, succulents, mosses, pods, and date palm seeds.  Damien Hirst's spot paintings, or, at least, the idea of them, were introduced via the polka-dot table cloths, whose colorful spots informed the color scheme of the setting, including those fuchsia ballroom-chairs.  And in lieu of place cards, place settings were marked by small ceramic frogs etched with guests' names.

If only real frogs looked as charming as those imagined by Jonathan.

The Inspiration:

A color engraving depicting the Second Plague of Egypt.

Two images of Catherine the Great's Green Frog Service.  Note the frog emblem at the top of the platter.

Table setting photos courtesy of Jonathan Preece.


  1. How very creative and even provocatively imaginative! I really don't think i have ever seen a table so well though out!! Bravo!

    The Arts by Karena
    Artist Nathaniel Galka

  2. what a beautiful table + bravo Jonathan

  3. This is such a creative table setting! I love how everything matches so well. Totally loving how colorful it all is too.

    The Office Stylist

  4. Alix Jacobs10:20 PM

    Jennifer, this is a MOST FABULOUS post. Am sending this on to a batch of appreciative peeps. Our dear mutual friend would have loved loved loved this. best to you and keep on with the great work...Alix J

  5. Hi Jennifer,
    I enjoyed this post, and was reminded of a favorite cult film, called FROGS, where the reptilian creatures (amphibian?)
    took over a house and ate the owners!

  6. Wow - those frogs are adorable!! But, that china - i have never seen that before, it's gorgeous, and I'm lusting for it!
    Hope all is well with you!!