Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Bookclub Tea Party Part 2--Designing a Space

Guests enjoy conversation near the food stations, cleverly integrated into the existing bookshelf.

I'm back with Part 2 of the Bookclub Tea Party, which reviews the designing of the space or room where the book club tea party took place. In Part 1, highlighted the invitation and other paper products for the event. The original inspiration for this party is my mother's beautiful tea set. I created this inspiration photo, and this product inspiration collage which was our guide when designing this event.

When planning the event photoshoot, I'm so 3-dimensionally challenged, I knew I'd need some solid help in that department. Luckily, Tammy Duvall was ready and willing to jump into the creative pool and add some of her own fantastic ideas into the mix. I'm especially thankful for her efforts since she was in the midst of planning a huge 600 guest Gala Fundraiser. But as we say, a little stress is a perfect way to get your creative juices flowing, right?

I asked Tammy some questions about her part of the creative process:

Designing a space is very different from designing paper products (my specialty). What skills from your past career and education did you call upon for this project?
I have degrees in Fashion Design and Fashion Merchandising which have trained me to analyze line, color, texture and space.
Tammy sewed a slipcover for the window seat to pull in the crisp black lines inspired by the tea set.
The pillows on the couch were also arranged to reflect the visual concept of the tea set. The black icons were enlarged and heat transferred to the white linen pillow. Tammy sewed a thin grosgrain ribbon near the edge and trimmed it in solid colors coordinating with the tea set.
When I presented the Bookclub Party, what struck you as inspirational?
I loved the idea of a Book Club Party and was inspired by your tea set--from there the vision took shape.
Every surface was considered a design space. The nectarines in a glass bowl introduced freshness to the coffee table.
What struck you as a challenge?
Our task was to pull together not only a Book Club Party but also creating the look and feel of the space, food and accessories (paper products) and the flow of the guests.
Stacks of books were used to create an instant table to rest cups of tea.
So much of your talents are intuitive (which are often difficult to put into words), can you try to describe how you took the visual inspiration and translated it into a larger space?
Any event requires a "feel" to the space in which it is being held. I asked myself, "How would I want to 'feel' at a Book Club party?" "How would I like the surrounding to look?" "How can I create those qualities which would essentially encourage me to feel social and reflective with other members of the book club?"
A lovely spot for listening and reflecting by the picture window.
We struggled half-way through the project to keep to the original concept. Why do you think creatives have such difficulty staying focused?
I think creatives are always faced with the challenge of the original concept because being creative is being open to the possibilities, respecting the possibilities outside of the original idea. Sometimes taking a walk down other paths help lead us back home, sometimes those paths take us somewhere completely different and blow our minds!

What did you love the most about the final shoot?
I loved that I was waiting for our guests to arrive any minute--that's how complete the project felt to me. I was ready to entertain!!!!

What would you change if we could do it again?
We would have had those damn raspberry-filled cakes!!! (more on this drama in a later post)

Will you ever work with me again and what kind of styled shoot would inspire you? :o)
I would love to work with you again! I don't like to dictate what would inspire me. It's when I feel most uncomfortable I am most inspired.

What true words that wise Tammy speaks! I am so struck by the part about creatives being open to possibilities. It's so true and it can be a blessing and a curse sometimes, can't it? Wandering off the path can lead to frustration and it can also lead to a design gem. There were many times when I was thankful that we had the original inspiration photo to lead me back home.

Thanks again so much Tammy! Thanks also to Karyn Hlad-Miller who did the photography and to Alexis Anderson who helped with the food. Next week I'll highlight that tasty portion of this event, and I'll include recipes as well. Thanks for reading!


  1. beautiful and comfortable, and those photos are gorgeous.

    I am running to my kitchn to get my cuppa tea, you inspired me!

  2. What a beautiful set up. I am thrilled to have a cup of tea and pour over a few new books this summer, perfect inspiration!


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