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Sitting Down with Stephanie Stokes

Ever since her first book in 2013, Elegant Rooms That Work, Stephanie Stokes’ interior design recommendation has always been to think about how the space works for you. She poses the question – How can you make the space serve its purpose while still looking good?

In her new book, The World At Your Table: Inspiring Tabletop Designs, Stephanie talks about how travel inspires the creative mind, particularly in the world of tabletop. Gathering inspiration from 22 out of the 86 countries she’s visited and fitting it into 224 pages, she talks about her travels and how they inspired, or contributed to, her current tabletop collection. In the book, you are able to see side-by-side photos of her travel photography and the tabletops that became as a result.

Stephanie is a former international photojournalist, art historian, and Wall Street banker turned Interior Designer and Author. She started her design company, Stephanie Stokes, Inc., in 1982. Since then, she has been perfecting her craft as an interior designer and entertaining expert completing over a hundred projects, and always making an effort to give at least one dinner party a week.

When Stephanie Stokes is giving a dinner, instead of saying Grace before the meal, she offers a tour of the items on her tabletop. Pointing out where each piece on her table came from has become a tradition for her, especially since most of the items come with a story that illuminates the customs of the country or the original use of the object.

And where does she find the inspiration for her tabletops you might ask? Well for starters, Ms. Stokes shared with us that a great starting point is blue and white because “everyone is drawn to it.” Stephanie bought her first set of blue and white china right out of college, and still uses it every day, even now. Even though a blue and white china pattern is both pretty and easy, your collection shouldn’t stop there.

“Have fun with your tables. Use your imagination and do something special. It doesn’t have to be business as usual.”

In fact, the more different the better. Ms. Stokes adorns her tables with all kinds of unique items including rhytons, ancient drinking vessels from Tehran, English Georgian spoon-warmers or spun 1950s blue glass from Stockholm. She urges readers to pick up unusual things wherever they travel.

Some of her favorite items can be found at Scully & Scully and are listed below.

1. William Yeoward Glasses –  Every piece of William Yeoward Crystal is hand made using many of the same traditional methods employed more than 150 years ago. Unusual hand cutting and engraving are distinctive elements of William Yeoward Crystal, producing beautiful yet practical pieces.

Shop William Yeoward

2. Juliska Cutlery – A timeless classic, natural bamboo sets a warmly sophisticated table with international flair, while gleaming stainless steel provides modern functionality.

Shop Juliska Cutlery

3. Anna Weatherley Plates – Inspired by the artisanal tradition of Hungary, skilled artisans hand paint fine European porcelain with 24k gold accents.

Shop Anna Weatherley

4. Bernardaud Plates – They are all the art of Limoges porcelain since 1863, combining know-how and innovation, creativity and French tradition.

Shop Bernardaud Blue and White

5. Mottahedeh Familie Verte – This graceful design, with its leaves, berries and butterflies, was inspired by a piece of Chinese imperial palace porcelain of the early 18th century. Much porcelain produced in China during the reign of the Kang His emperor (1662-1722) had “Famille Verte” decoration – painted in transparent enamels predominantly in shades of green.

Shop Mottahedeh Familie Verte

It was such a pleasure to sit down with Stephanie and pick her brain about all things interior design and tablescapes. We look forward to seeing her again at our upcoming Fund for Park Avenue event on April 26, where she will be signing copies of The World At Your Table: Inspiring Tabletop Designs.

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