The Art Of Tablescaping, With Kirthanaa Naidu
Taking Insta and the foodie universe by storm with her I-need-another-slice-please Pandan and coconut cheesecake is Kirthanaa Naidu. She is revered for her outrageously chic tablescaping, as well as the mouthwatering dishes she serves alongside them at her coveted supper clubs and events. The London-based, Malaysian-Indian food and table stylist, cook, and creative consultant tells Service95 how her childhood influences each menu, why linen has a place at every dinner, what inspires her tabletop colour palette and the reason she’s all about sharing.
Sharing Dishes Create A Welcoming Vibe
The way I cook and serve food is very much based on the way I was brought up in Malaysia, where my mum would cook family-style dishes. I’ve always been around big plates of sharing food, so ‘starter-main-dessert’ isn’t really me. I love hosting friends who don’t know each other, so sharing plates is a great way for us to interact, where we all pitch in, pass around huge platters and enjoy talking about the food in a communal way.
Cook In Advance
I tend to cook dishes that can be pre-prepared, such as curries which develop deeper flavours after being in the fridge overnight. Then, when people arrive, all I need to do is add fresh finishing touches such as herbs and garnish. If there’s no time, I go for minimalist dishes like salads or delicious deli ingredients that can be pulled together, so I’m styling and curating rather than cooking.
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Lay The Table The Evening Before
Whenever I’m hosting, that involves both cooking and styling, so my one piece of advice for the table is to set it the night before. The day before, I’ll get all my ingredients, buy some beautiful flowers at the market and set the table in the evening. That means that on the day, I just have the cooking to focus on, so when the guests start to arrive, everything flows smoothly and I can be present, rather than distracted and running around trying to finish it all, which isn’t fun for anyone.
Creased Linen Can Be Chic
I always choose linen tablecloths. I have a huge collection and love the way they fall – rather than ironing them, I bunch them up to crease them for an effortless, undone look. I always find myself coming back to white linen – it can be dressed in so many ways and it always works well because it’s just so simple. If I’m going for pattern, it’ll be a check or a gingham because they’ll never date. Beeswax candles are also always on my tables, I get mine from Wax Atelier in London, which hand-dips them in beautiful natural colours that pair so well with white linen.
My flowers bring in colour, and I’m very much inspired by the seasons when it comes to tablescaping. For autumn, I lean into browns and umbers that make the space feel warm. For more shots of brightness, I bring in colourful vintage Murano glasses, which I find on my travels – the antique markets in France are particularly great – as well as colourful napkins. It’s fun to mix and match wherever I can to create looks that are fresh and new.
My Favourite Recent Tablescape…
Was an aperitivo table on the beach in Sicily. It was incredibly pared back, with a gingham linen, some striped glasses and antipasti made from divine ingredients from the market. It all came together in a beautifully authentic way.
I aim to keep my style chic and considered while also relaxed. I rarely make a plan for tablescaping, I just grab a bunch of linens, candles and the flowers I’ve got and play around with it. I want my tables to feel inviting and welcoming, not like they’re overdone, so people feel like they can’t mess it all up a bit over the course of dinner.
5 Stylish Tablescaping Buys, Recommended By Kirthanaa Naidu
- Fine bone china butter dish, £73, by Feldspar, a British brand that focuses on creating ‘objects for life’.
- Two-piece set of piano cocktail glasses, €94, by Sophie Lou Jacobsen, a French-American designer based in New York City.
- Set of four striped linen napkins, £110, by Summerill & Bishop, which specialises in rustic, traditional tableware.
- Frenchette bistro glasses, £50 for four, by G by Glassette, the online space providing a careful curation of homewares from UK-based brands.
- Taper candle with lace striped bow, $42, by Gohar World – a ‘tableware universe’, with pieces designed in New York and crafted by family-owned ateliers around the world.