The Best of the Best 2016, the major fund raising event organised by the National Gallery of Victoria Women’s Association, was held in Melbourne this month. This association raises funds for scholarships for leading art school graduates and NGV curators, and also contributes towards the acquisition of works for public enjoyment at the National Gallery of Victoria. New dimensions of table art were showcased, conceived and created by some of Australia’s leading artists, decorators, galleries, interior designers, stylists, couturiers and florists. It seemed an excellent reason for us to dash up to Melbourne for the day!
Have a look at our favourites below.
The very first table we saw was by Peter Rowland Catering. ‘Field to Feast’, reflects their philosophy of seasonal and locally sourced produce. This philosophy is beautifully illustrated by the magnificent, edible centrepiece on their table.
Themed in green was a table by Paul Bangay for Elliot Clarke. Inspired by the Stonefields fabric collection from their collaboration, Paul chose his favourite evergreen tree, Magnolia Grandiflora as the centrepiece. This was under planted with moss and wild Cyclamen. The chair covers, napkins and table cloth are also from the Stonefields collection and the chic green dinnerware was from the Coote & Co. house porcelain collection. The green velvet tablecloth added a richness and depth to this striking design.
One of our favourite tables was by Coote & Co. Charlotte Coote, one of Melbourne’s top Interior Designers commissioned the magnificent 80kg timber pineapple which was carved out of mahogany. The canopy of Autumnal oak branches came from a close friend’s garden. It is difficult to gauge the huge scale of this elaborate centre piece from this photograph. It was spectacular!
I am looking forward to writing more about this innovative design firm in a series on Australian designers starting soon.
Shareen Joel and Tarryn Joyce used beautiful flowers and a dark and moody table design to demonstrate contrast. Referencing Caravaggio and other still life art and selecting brass, steel and bronze materials, the result was a desired industrial feminine composition. Deep crimson blooms, with autumn foliage, hydrangeas and purple orchids were housed in black steel piping. Open pomegranates lying on the dark tablecloth, created a jewel like contrast.
Peony Melbourne haute parfumerie’s table was inspired Ormond Jayne Parfums, London which are exclusive to Peony Melbourne. The magnificent over-sized, hand-etched flacons, Lucite chairs, and the purity and elegance of the white orchids contrasted with the chartreuse hues of this luxury scent. “In much the same way as a painter applies brushstrokes to the canvas or the composer arranges notes and chords, the master perfumer pursues his art through the magic of olfactory expression”.
Using fabrics from her own range, Diane Bergeron’s navy and green theme was eye-catching. The navy chinoiserie table skirt in her ‘Mulberry’ fabric with green trim was offset beautifully by her chic ‘Hudson’ fabric in ‘Kelly’ used for the seat covers. We loved the vintage faux bamboo flatware, the silver julep cups filled with fresh bay leaves as well as the blue and white porcelain. The tiered abundance of white orchids at the centre was fabulous. I look forward to writing about Diane Bergeron in a future series on Australian Designers.
Wedgwood’s mix of heritage and modernity was perfectly captured by their Megan Hess designed table where their new Vibrance collection was featured. The Vibrance colours of turquoise, pink, orange and yellow are accented with gold and crisp white. Hess designed the bespoke napkins, featuring various couture dresses that complemented the Vibrance colours. A delightful, stand-out design and definitely one of our favourites.
Flowers Vasette the iconic Melbourne florist, commissioned this magnificent 1.8m sculpture, used to hold the tumbling flowers and foliage which Vasette sourced from their own Beechmont gardens. The contrasting sparkle of the crystal placed beneath the sculpture represented ‘mica’ a treasure that exists naturally in the soil. “Exposing the dark underbelly of the flower world, Vasette’s specially commissioned sculpture celebrates the essential elements of soil and rock, the rich earth from which the flowers bloom forth”. The centerpiece was quite magnificent and defied gravity!
Last, but certainly not least and definitely one of our favourites was by Brownlow Interior Design one of Melbourne’s top design firms. The mother and daughter team created a table that captured some of our favourite design elements. The fabulous botanic tablecloth by Gaston Y Daniela set the scene with the over-sized lampshade in Brunschwig & Fils “Le touche” pulling it all together. The green acrylic Dolce Vita Wine glasses from Mario Luca Guisti created deep green accents and the wonderful vintage rattan chairs suggested a conservatory or veranda setting for this lunch table. Adorable ceramic name card holders by Beau Johnston added whimsy as did the illustrous luncheon guests. Bunny Williams, Elsie de Wolf, Alex Verwoordt, Jean Monro, Sister Parish, Nancy Lancaster, Albert Hadley, David Hicks, John Fowler and Nicky Haslam were the invited guests! Wouldn’t this be the most entertaining group! Altogether charming and beautiful!
I am just sorry that this post took so long to get published! I blame the erratic wifi as a result of NBN installations in our area. I actually lost the entire post which I thought I had saved and so had to re-do the whole thing!
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Thanks Heidi … We should definitely meet up in Melbourne the next time this event happens … I love table settings so much and for me it was the best time ever!!
How lovely to see you here Alexandra!… Yes – it is definitely very obvious that your table was loved by everyone … and deservedly so! As my mother used to say – 'Don't forget the detail"… xx
Thank you Pammie!
Love reading your comments Heidi, thank you for following us on Instagram – hope to meet you in person one day.
We are so chuffed to be included in your blog post and after reading through the above comments from your followers we are so thrilled our table for Best of the Best has had such glowing feedback, what more could we wish for! Just delightful, thank you. Alexandra Brownlow xx
So happy to have seen all of this! I saw a little on Insta, but your post is the first comprehensive look I've seen. Wonderful displays of creativity. Love Coote and Co's and Brownlows the most. Brownlow are one of my favourite Insta follows too… we seem to love the same fabrics!
Also love their use of coloured glasses – probably because I do that myself! Easiest way to lift the table I think, so agree with Pammie that it's nice to see some glasses that are different on the table settings. Plus how can you go past some Gaston y Daniela fabric and Les Touches which is such a classic! x
Thanks so much Lillian … lovely to see your comment here! xx
Thanks for your comment Pammie – It was the most delightful way of spending a morning and I marvelled at the creativity of the people involved. These were our favourites and I unfortunately couldn't mention everyone… Those deep green glasses on Brownlow's table were wonderful!! xx
I wander what happened with Chelsea this year Naomi?… I've read numerous disappointed reports. Thank you … it was the most beautiful morning.. xx