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The Localist
Food and Drink

The art of tablescaping with Iska Lupton

Ever wondered how to turn your dining table into a work of art? Transforming your dinner party décor to something beyond the ordinary requires an expert hand and eye. From a serene beach dinner in Cornwall to catering to the bustling rooftops of Spitalfields to a chic flavour garden in sunny Los Angeles, Iska Lupton knows a thing or two about setting a scene that tantalises the senses.

To mark the start of spring at Seabird, our rooftop restaurant at The Hoxton, Southwark, we invited Iska to dream up a concept for dinner with friends featuring the new season menu. Below, she shares her masterplan for the event as well as some tips to help you make your own tablescaping triumph.

“I studied drama and have always been obsessed with food. Not so much cooking but as a creative medium. So dinner design feels like a mix of it all – the theatre and set design of the table, a colour palette and theme drawn from the food that’s served.


“I like to mix high and low, big and small, handmade and high end. I think about all the senses, the narrative of an experience, different moments and textures and scales: the intricacy of a prawn shrimp eyelash versus the wow factor of a tiered seafood platter or sparkler dessert. I like to add something silly, something serious, something a bit ridiculous.

“Seafood towers and spring flowers were a great starting point for the dinner at Seabird. Shrimps and lobsters have so much personality and shells are the most stylish free vessels one can source! We put the seaweed butter in scallop shells and turned the more handsome oyster shells into single candle holders (I used a 10mm pointed drill bit for a thin taper candle).  

“The tablecloths were linen – it’s always worth using 100% natural materials to elevate a look. I embroidered 17 designs by drawing them onto the fabric and then using embroidery hoops and a mix of coloured thread on a theme of pink/red/green. I ended up with a 10-metre platter of prawns, scallops and oysters, a couple of puddings and a few martinis (with the olives picking up the signature Seabird green shade). The napkins I got done professionally by machine so that the Seabird logo popped.

“It’s always nice to weave some themes through: flowers arranged in the same steel dessert cups we used for cheesecake, with skinny candles at characterful angles; flowers that suggested ice cream ripple paired with pink and green lettuces that look like they might grow at the bottom of the sea; cherries in the martini tower entrance piece and then sewn into the tablecloth; and oysters on the menu and on the name cards, which I painted in ink and cut out, writing the names in calligraphy pen (I love a chisel 3.0).”

Join us on the 14th floor at The Hoxton, Southwark for your very own coastal escape, complete with panoramic city views, unmissable cocktails, and the freshest flavours of Southern Europe.


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