by Marisa Marcantonio

A touch of bright color on a summer table can raise the style quotient as the temperature does the same. A robust orangey coral color has been on the radar for some time, and it is showing up in wonderfully patterned tabletop designs. I love the color so much that I decided to upholster my chairs in it. The color's sunny disposition will go to your head, and these plates will encourage festive all fresco dinners all year long.

Photos courtesy of Roberta Roller Rabbit

My favorite classic Roberta Roller Rabbit print has made its way onto china. Crafted from Limoges porcelain, the Amanda printed scalloped plate in an all-over orange and fuchsia floral print comes in a set of 4, in either dinner or dessert size.

Have some fun an mix in the solid orange plate with fuchsia border to add dimension to the printed plate. Available through Roberta Roller Rabbit.

Photos courtesy of Barneys 

The French know how to design beautiful china, natch, so Site Corot's geometric glazed porcelain plates from Barneys provide a playful spin on the medium.  The Florida patterned dessert or salad plate will make any sweet the star.

A zig zag hand-created border on the Florida Dinner Plate from Site Corot at Barneys  has a white center as to not compete with the main event.

A low soup or cereal bowl completes the  "touch of whimsy" look. From Barneys.

Photos courtesy of Terrain

Like a glowing sun, these South African- made, hand-crafted ceramic plates from Terrain are punchy and strong.

A circle pattern and linear rays echo the rays of the sun, the Petals Plate, also from the same collective at Terrain.


by Marisa Marcantonio

Taking famous faces and memorializing them in portraits is one thing. Putting them on a melamine plate? Well, that's just irreverent and witty. British company Whitbread Wilkinson worked with their fine English heritage and put historically significant portraits from the National Portrait Gallery onto plastic picnic ware. Try pulling these out the next time you picnic in the park. You will seem so cultured!

Detail from Antonello da Messina's Portrait of a Man

Bordone's Portrait of a Young Woman

Swabian's Portrait of a Woman of the Hofer Family

c 1470

The Emperor Napoleon I by Vernet

A detail from Italian Andrea Solario's Giovanni Cristoforo Longoni

Detail from The Ambassadors by Hans Holbein the Younger


by Marisa Marcantonio

I first met Joe Nye when I was out in Laguna Beach photographing one of his client's houses for House Beautiful. I was struck from the outset by his incredible sense of style and superb use of among many things, color and pattern. Since that time, we have developed both a friendship and a working relationship of mutual respect and admiration.

I worked with Joe some time later to help him build his brand and expand his creative vision with product development. Part of this effort was to work with him on a book with Rizzoli. It has manifested itself in an incredibly charming square format that is filled with glorious pictures of Joe's ideas for table settings and entertaining. Without question, "Flair" comes naturally to Joe -- he has it in spades. The book shows readers how to entertain with panache and discusses choosing invitations, place cards, setting the table and arranging flowers. Joe's high energy and constant creative ideas are inspiring to be around -- his love of fabrics with bold patterns, pretty china, and a vision of how it should come together are ever present. Now that summer is in full swing, entertaining is on many of our minds. How do you create a memorable experience? Well, with Joe Nye's Flair as your guide, your guests will feel especially welcome.

The cover of Flair starts it off with a bang, showing Joe's beloved hand painted Isis ceramics with Juliska's classic black bamboo flatware on a tablecloth made from a fabric that pairs unexpected colors. The book gives a true sense of Joe's ability to create young traditional settings with beautiful decorative elements and high design details. Setting the scene for ladies lunches, birthday celebrations and memorable dinners, the book shares ideas you can use, ways to work with what you already own, and how to tie a whole look together.

We visited the LA flower market, a huge warehouse space with rows and rows of bright bunches. Carnations are a favorite of Joe's so they play a starring role in the book. His pale green sweater looks great against the pale lilac of the Hydrangea.

Red, white and blue is a perennial summer favorite. With the 4th of July coming, this table looks just right. A red toile tablecloth sets the groundwork for mixing high and low. Crate and Barrel lanterns are shown next to Dahlia's in antique silver containers. Use what you have and mix high and low together. To add visual interest, use flutes and lower water glasses at different heights.

Each place setting has a guest gift of Teuscher truffles, flown in daily from Switzerland. Give your guests a sweet little something as a take home gift so the event lingers in their memory. Grab a freshly cut stem and place it at each setting-- it's all in the details.

Baby's Breath, "are much maligned flower" in Joe - speak, used here en masse to great dramatic effect. He teaches us to look singular flower arrangements, and to look at certain types of inexpensive flowers with a new eye. They can look great when done right. Luckily, Joe had great environments to work with. Many of the shoots took place in homes he designed, so he was very familiar with the surroundings!

Every book needs a signature element. In this case, each place setting is shown up close and personal. This way, you get the whole story, show how the varied elements come together. Joe mixed his Flight Barr and Barr antique china with a Home, James! Chinatown Charger. The look is unexpected and fun. For the flowers, he pulled out colors found in the china, and for napkins, a shade of aqua.

Photos by Edmund Barr
Aubergine and kelly green make a great pairing. Don't be afraid to mix and match patterns that are vastly different. The geometric border of Elsie from Charlotte Moss for Pickard works well with my favorite pattern, Chelsea Flowers by Mottahedeh. Purple William Yeoward Crystal goblets bring out the flowers in the china.