How does the way you entertain influence your approach to designing outdoors?
My motto has always been to amplify a more casual style of gathering so that people can mingle, chat, laugh, connect, and most importantly, nosh. I love a beautifully abundant family-style meal and casual self-service station because it encourages more connection: connection to ourselves, to others, to food, and to our environment.
Outdoor gatherings at home should always feel special and beautiful but also casual to the core. There is certainly no need for formality. This is why I opted for the Brown Jordan Oscar benches over individual seating around my Oscar dining table. Guests can easily perch themselves against the edge of a bench, rather than having set places, inviting that casual feeling of summer. I also chose benches because I have the Brown Jordan Moto Armless sectional and the Moto Right Arm Loveseat sectional paired with the Oscar Lounge Chairs around the fire pit on the deck, so visually I didn’t want to repeat the same type of furniture.
What is the secret to creating an elegant but casual outdoor gathering?
The food I create mirrors the energy I want to embody. I want the food to celebrate the pureness of summer so I prefer not to manipulate things too much. This is also represented in how I like to gather outdoors. I am not a fancy pressed linen tablecloth kind of person in the summer, nor am I drawn to stemmed glassware or precious flowers. I want everything to feel a little wilder. I want my guests to feel as though they can show up at my house straight from the beach with sandy feet in a bathing suit and feel welcome. I want that carefree nature to come across in the food, décor, vibe, essence, and energy around the table.
It’s no secret that I love to forage and I always look to my immediate surroundings for inspiration and let nature inform everything I do, from the menu to the décor. If I’m making grilled shrimp and the recipe calls for rosemary but I have oregano growing in the yard, I’ll use the fresh herb instead, and perhaps a sprig can be used on the place settings, too.
Every facet of my work incorporates the same philosophy: Simple ideas, thoughtfully executed. I approach my tablescape with the same tenets. Yes, they are beautiful but they’re never too precious, and it’s always about cultivating an experience for people that elevates the senses.