The Art of the Table: Preview Party For DIFFA

"CHAHUT" Table by Ken Fulk

The Fall party season in San Francisco is in full swing, and what better way to start it all off than with the "Art of the Table" Preview party benefiting DIFFA's DINING BY DESIGN. Gumps hosted the party last week featuring the table topping talents of these four top San Francisco designers: Ken Fulk, Claudia Juestel, Martha Angus and Orlando Diaz-Azcuy. The party was a kick-off event to the upcoming DIFFA events this November in San Francisco. To find out more about DIFFA DINING BY DESIGN click on over HERE.

Partnering in the event at Gumps were notable tableware masters: Hermes, Puiforcat, Cristal Saint-Louis, Raynaud, Ecruis, Alberto Pinto, Varga and Jean Louis Coquet. All contributed to the fantasy table decor put together by the designers.

When we arrived, the party was in full swing. We got a glass of wine and immediately found the tables. I have to say, I was a little star struck by the designer line-up. I am a long time admirer of each one of them.

I started at Ken Fulk's table, which was dazzling. Topped with the front half of a black stallion ringed with dozens of sunset hued roses, this table was off and running at first glance. Ken was so imaginative with this table, I hardly know where to begin!

The dark wood table was topped with a piece of glass which was back-painted with Hermes orange paint. Now, that is an idea that anyone could use to update a table and make it one-of-a-kind. Ken contacted Hermes to see if they might lend saddles to use as the dining "chairs". And they said "Yes"! Ken painted the saddle stands (also by Hermes) a fuchsia pink, topped them with the Hermes saddles, and draped those with Hermes scarves and belt buckles.

The table is set with Fil D'Argent China and Attalage Silver, both by Hermes. The Black Martini glass is by David Redmond, Martini Shaker by Lappas, Toroise DOF by Stueben, and charger by Laque De Chine Noir and Platinum by Haviland.

Ken added the crop (Hermes) as a "party favor", or perhaps just to whip a little more excitement into this equestrian fantasy. This run for the roses is a clear winner.

Hermes Saddle and Stand

Next up was "The Observer Effect" by Claudia Juestel. Claudia, founder and principal of Adeeni Design Group, brought her own design sensibilities to the table by designing a custom Dining Table with Brazilian Rosewood Veneer. She also created the custom dining chairs upholstered in a shagreen textured fabric.

"The Observer Effect" Table by Claudia Juestel

Claudia used China by Raynaud, silver by Ercuis and crystal by Saint Louis and Varga. The silver "bowls" at each place setting are made out of coins and titled "Beggar" Bowls, by Dave Meeker. The centerpiece of the table was not the expected flowers, but what appeared to be a miniature laser light show made from the "Shpera" Light Fixture by Matteo Thun coupled with "Quiet Tectonic" Single Channel Video Projection available through Baxter and Cook Art Advisors. Try THAT at your next party!

Perhaps my favorite thing about this setting was the brilliant bar cart design by Paul Benson. His talent never ceases to amaze. Paul works out of Sonoma and creates the most beautifully crafted metal and lacquered pieces of furniture art. You may remember his console from the Met Home Modern by Design Showhouse HERE.

"Tantalus" Bar Cabinet by Paul Benson

Martha, Martha, Martha! I love your designs! Full of artful fun, high and low, Martha Angus' table is as beautiful as it is accessible. Martha Angus designs are playful as well as sophisticated, which is just how I like it! Martha started things off with a Duodecogonal (say that ten times fast!) Mirrored Dining Table with etching from Sarlo. The beautiful orange and pink upholstered Gustavian and Louis XVI chairs are from Therien.

"NtRain" Table by Martha Angus

And here is where things get fun. The area rug is actually two IKEA rugs put together and the light fixture by Aargon Neon was made from plastic bags. Beauty and creativity is not dependent on price.

Martha topped the table with China by Alberto Pinto, Silver by Puiforcat and Crystal by Saint Louis. Lovely!

The table by Orlando Diaz-Azcuy was an imaginary High Tea with all of the First Ladies in attendance. Mr. Diaz-Azcuy began his thought process with the selection of the Pensees pattern by Bernardaud. The Pansy motif set the tone for the whole table. Mr. Diaz-Azcuy had pansies printed onto the table top (table and chairs were designed by Orlando Diaz-Azcuy for McGuire Furniture) as well as onto the tea cookies.

"High Tea with Bernardaud" table by Orlando Diaz-Azcuy

It was fun to see which of the First Ladies had their place cards at the table. Michelle and the last six all seemed to be in attendance. (Can you name them all?) Pretty and feminine at first glance, there as it was quite another story that was running through Mr. Diaz-Azcuy's head as he told us all what he imagined the ladies talked about at this party! Very entertaining!

After seeing the tables, there was a discussion with the designers about their designs and how they personally like to entertain. Marta Benson of Gumps introduced Diane Dorrans Saeks who led the discussion with the panel.

Ken Fulk and Marta Benson

Diane led a lively discussion, and I learned some very interesting tidbits! There were strong opinions as to whether paper napkins were acceptable or not. (What do you think?!)Orlando likes to play old movies without the sound at his dinner parties to keep the conversation flowing. Claudia loves to play Latin music, while Martha likes techno, but not while at the table. Ken was not able to enjoy his parties until he learned that people had much more fun when he did not worry too much about things being "perfect". Most importantly, everyone agreed that a good mix of friends is key, and that simple is sometimes best.

Diane Dorrans Saeks, Claudia Juestel, Orlando Diaz-Azcuy, Martha Angus

Claudia Juestel, Ken Fulk and Martha Angus

(Love the Houndstooth suit Ken!)

At the end of the party, guests were invited to purchase their tickets for the DIFFA DINING BY DESIGN Events November 18th and 19th. A lucky (SOOO lucky!!!) few purchasers won gift bags from Hermes!

Thank you again to Gumps who knows how to throw a perfect party!

And please hop on over to the DIFFA DINING BY DESIGN site to see how you can attend or help.