Give Your Holiday Table a Fresh Look with Casale Blue

Article By Stephen Milioti
Villeroy & Boch Casale Blu

“The holidays hold so much meaning for so many people,” says Isabelle von Boch. “But beyond that, the holiday season — especially Thanksgiving — has become one of those rare times when entire families sit around a table for an extended period of time to enjoy a meal.”

Because it’s a rare moment for people to slow down, set their phones aside (hopefully) and enjoy time together, the table has to be memorable. And this year, Villeroy & Boch has reimagined the holiday table’s traditional aesthetic in a cooler set of hues. “It’ll make you look at the holidays in a different way, with fresh eyes,” says von Boch, the company’s brand ambassador and an eighth-generation member of its founding family.

Enter Casale Blu

Casale BlueEnter Casale Blu: defined by saturated-yet-subtle blue tones, it evokes the graphic decorative style of traditional Italian ceramics (specifically, those practiced in the Umbrian town of Deruta since the 12th century). But, as with so many Villeroy & Boch lines, this style, while historically relevant, is made contemporary enough to fit perfectly into any table or décor style. And we’d like to present it as the basis for not only the Thanksgiving table this year, but the rest of the festive season, including Christmas or Hanukkah.

“I’m always fond of formalizing the casual, and casualizing the formal,” says von Boch. And, ironically, Casale Blu will do both for the holiday table: Its bowls and plates, with their eye-catching color and graphic details, add European flair to any space you grace them with.

When it comes to setting your table with Casale Blu, von Boch’s advice, as always, is to mix and match within the collection. And this collection makes that very easy (and fun) to do. The primary blue color is peppered with accents of yellow or green in four distinct patterns. Mix plates, bowls, cups, and more in different patterns, even within settings, and you’ll evoke the Italian way of life — aesthetically beautiful yet effortlessly laid-back.

Into this “perfectly mismatched” look, add some bold blue or green glass accents (like the Verso vase, in the bold “Caribbean Sea” color). Beyond that, von Boch recommends introducing natural elements into the mix, for a richly textured, undeniably autumnal look and feel. Woven jute or sisal placemats, wooden serving bowls and utensils (like an acacia plate or salad servers from the Artesano Original line), and even stone accents will bring nature in, adding a relaxed tone to this inspired, global look. The result: a setting in which you’ll want to linger for hours, making memories — and setting some new holiday traditions.

Live in Lavender

Isabelle von Boch Dishes on the Stately, Sophisticated Hue (and the Villeroy & Boch Collection That Beautifully Brings It to Life)

Interview & Article By Stephen Milioti

Haven’t thought much about lavender lately? Well, it’s time to give it a little attention again. Actually, more than a little. Because it’s way more versatile than you think. This refreshing hue is a design chameleon: Its more pink- and plum-leaning versions are expressive of nature’s bounty, and fit beautifully into a verdant country manor. But, on the other hand, the grayed-down versions are entirely at home in a chic urban loft.

This seasonless, inspiring color is in full effect in Villeroy & Boch’s Artesano Provençal Lavender line. Designed by renowned Belgian artist Isabelle de Borchgrave, it blends this intoxicating hue with classic floral patterns: a combination that’s entirely timeless, yet fresh-looking at once. It also represents a fascinating combination of artistic and cultural influences.

Artesano Provencal Lavender

 

Who better to speak to about this elegant collection — and lavender in general — than Isabelle von Boch, the company’s brand ambassador (and an eighth-generation member of its founding family)? To that end, we asked her for her tips, thoughts, and inspirations when it comes to this subtly regal hue:

SM: What’s your connection to the color lavender?

IvB: Isabelle von BochWell, personally, I have never owned any lavender or plum clothing because I have blue eyes and I think it fights blue. But I admire it everywhere else — for example, in a home interior. So even though it’s not my choice from a fashion or clothing standpoint, it fascinates me in porcelain. It’s softly sophisticated. It’s such an intoxicating hue to look at … it makes me want to breathe it in.

 

SM: Design-wise, what type of environment do you see lavender working best in?

IvB: Interestingly, a lot of people have the misconception that lavender is ultra feminine and frilly. But it’s not that at all. I see it working extremely well in a modern environment, set against a minimalist background, because it speaks so strongly on its own. I think it works extremely well as a subtle counterpoint or complement to sophisticated grays. It also just happens to work great with traditional décor, too.

 

SM: What colors and textures do you suggest pairing lavender with?

IvB: As I noted, it’s perfect with warm neutrals like gray and sand. But beyond that, it also works nicely next to muted colors like soft seafoam green. And I suggest pairing it alongside natural elements like stone, wood, and cement.

 

SM: Talk a little bit about the designs in the Artesano Provençal Lavender collection. You’ve regularly noted that this is one of your absolute favorite lines. What do you love so much about them?

IvB: I love the depth of color and shading in the petals. At the same time, it’s clearly Provence-inspired, evident if you look at the florals, as well as the colors: lavender, rosemary and beige. To me, it’s also inspired by Japonism, a term for the influence of Japanese arts, fashion and material culture on European art, specifically the Impressionist and post-Impressionist eras. Monet, Klimt, Gauguin and van Gogh were all inspired by Japanese work as well. The designer of the collection, Isabelle de Borchgrave, aligns so beautifully with our brand because she’s able to combine these art-historical references flawlessly. The Artesano Provençal Lavender collection screams “art,” and I adore that. These designs have an emotional quality, a fluid line, with a depth of color that makes you want to “drink” them. The shape itself is warm and sculptural; its pronounced rim gives it an artisanal feel. It’s a sophisticated reinterpretation of florals.

 

SM: What are some of your favorite pieces in the collection?

Arrtesano LavenderIvB: The pasta plates are my favorite. They’re so practical and generously sized, yet extremely beautiful at once. I love setting a table with a big white serving bowl in the middle and a pasta plate at each setting. Then add a charger and wood serving utensils for a mix of textures. I routinely suggest combining these lavender pieces with wood, cork and slate, to give the look warmth and bring out the Artesano Provençal Lavender’s handcrafted artisanal quality. (Try Villeroy & Boch’s three-tier étagère, made of acacia wood and slate.) It’ll make for a combination of urbanity and sophistication.

 

SM: You speak so much of a love of nature, both today and when you grew up in Provence. So we had to ask … would these styles work outdoors?

IvB: Yes, absolutely … they’re made for the outdoors, just as much as indoors. Just make sure to minimalize the décor around it. Pair it with neutral grass and lavenders, sage and muted greens — remember… seafoam green, not emerald — so as not to overpower the motif. Skip the bright flowers. Those work better with Amazonia, another one of my favorite Villeroy & Boch collections. (More on that one soon…)

 

SM: What kind of home design style do you think is best suited for this collection?

IvB: Artesano Provençal matches all different kinds of homes and styles: It fits into a country home as well as in a modern loft where it brings an element of nature onto the table. In elegant homes, it will add some casual European chic to the interior style. And imagine a table setting with Artesano Provençal on a rooftop, a terrace or in a garden to host family and friends outdoors – simply beautiful!

Thanksgiving Tablescape Tips from Isabelle von Boch

Interview By Stephen Milioti

 
When she was growing up in Germany, Isabelle von Boch — an eighth-generation member of the von Boch family — didn’t know much about Thanksgiving. “In Europe, we didn’t grow up with the holiday,” she said, “so I had to reinvent it.” Now a resident of Carmel, California, she has done just that. Thanksgivings celebrated at her home are at once lush and laid-back.

“In America,” she says, “Thanksgiving is the only time when I see people actually taking time and spending hours at the table, which is something I am familiar with, being European. But I never see that here. That’s my favorite thing, people connecting, taking their time. Thanksgiving is a day when we allow ourselves to linger and connect and talk and … be.”

Here, we asked her for tips on how to create an environment — both the table and beyond — to set off your Thanksgiving feast in its best possible light, and make sure your holiday environment possesses the same combination of elegance and livability that always defines her design aesthetic. It’s a relaxed-yet-luxe look that’s worth celebrating:

Isabelle's Favorite Dinnerware: Audun

SM:  What are the three most essential elements and the two most important pieces of the Thanksgiving table?

IvB:  The first essential element is familiarity. Thanksgiving is a time to pull out things from around the house that evoke great memories — pieces that mean something, and have purpose — and put them on or near the table. Family photos, an antique ladle, your grandmother’s gravy bowl.

Another key element is to be laid-back and relaxed. Create a warm atmosphere that doesn’t feel stuffy — somewhere you’d love to sit for hours and talk.

Lastly, things have to be comfortable. Don’t have one dipping bowl for 12 people. Set a couple of them out. Same with the cranberries … if it’s something everyone reaches for, divide it around so people aren’t reaching too far.

As far as two most important pieces: the centerpiece and the turkey platter. For the centerpiece, it can be everything from florals, to an old soup tureen. Again, select something of meaning to you.

 

SM:  What are the biggest “faux-pas,” in your eyes, that you’ve seen made at a Thanksgiving table?

IvB:  When people bring food to a Thanksgiving meal, they don’t always bring it in the most attractive plates. Let’s just say there are a lot of unattractive baking dishes out there. A bad platter will downgrade the experience. So have some extra platters handy to transfer everyone’s dishes onto before serving. Make sure you transfer them all, though, so you don’t call out specific people for having inappropriate dishes!

Paper napkins of any sort are a faux pas. Use cloth napkins – always. When you use paper napkins, guests get the feeling that you just don’t care, and didn’t go the extra mile.

 

Fall Table with New Cottage DinnerwareSM:  Let’s talk colors. Can you offer some ideas for how to mix pieces to achieve a traditional Thanksgiving color palette (i.e., fall colors)? And, on the opposite end, how about an idea for a non-traditional color palette? (Brights? Or cool tones?)

IvB:  Orange, rust and earthy brown tones are traditionally fall, and instantly classic. For something more modern, try purples and apple green, with white. Or purple and gray for a more modern, even urban look. If you have a classic-modern table (set with Villeroy & Boch La Classica in white), put a twist on the classics: Go for white- or green-colored pumpkins that stores sell alongside the regular orange varieties. Or dress it down with silvery foliage or twigs and branches rather than multicolored florals.

 

SM:  Styling-wise, can you offer some ideas for a truly bountiful, lush table, and then some for a minimal table?

IvB:  Absolutely. There are so many elements besides the dishware. If you’re looking to add warmth, go with a rough-hewn raw-edge wooden table, and get rid of the tablecloth and placemats. If you’re going more lush, layer placemats and tablecloth in complementary (or contrasting) colors and luxe materials. Or go more bohemian-luxe by mixing pattern on pattern. For minimal looks, it’s just about removing many of those layers. No one said you need to have a tablecloth or placemats. Take both of those elements off a wooden table and you have the basis for a pared-down, modern look.

 

SM:  You’re big on mastering the mix. Can you offer some tips for how to mix styles for the Thanksgiving table, both within the same Villeroy & Boch collections and between different collections? How to add accessories to complement them?

IvB:  One of our classics, and a top selling pattern in North America, Audun, is made to be mixed all together, so within that collection, go for it. With the different patterns within the Audun collection you can create a more country look, while selecting Chasse or Ferme; these go well with a more traditional table in rusty, burnt orange, beige or earth tones. Audun’s Fleur or Promenade décors go with a more contemporary table. And if you’re looking to go even more modern, combine Audun Fleur or Promenade with pieces from the all-white Artesano Original line or mix them with colors such as cool grays – e.g. our Colour Concept chargers made of glass in the colour “smoke” . That’s the great thing about Audun; designed in the 1830ies it’s classic and evocative of the past, yet, if you choose certain pieces, it works brilliantly in contemporary settings.

Beyond this, runners, placemats, and napkins are great ways to add personality and set the tone. Go for a modern check or stripe, or a classic brocade/silk, depending on the mood you want to set.

Next, crystal, silverware, and accessories matter. Go for wood candleholders for a less formal look (or put tea lights in carved-out pumpkins if you want to be even less formal than that) — or crystal if you want to be more traditional. Or mix and match more formal and more casual — I love the concept of casualizing the formal and formalizing the casual. If you have a more formal table, add a whimsical element by varying the color of drinking glasses at place settings. Little unexpected touches like that are what really catch people’s eyes.

 

SM:  A lot of times, people put so much focus on the table that they forget the rest of the dining room/area. What are a few changes/adds people can make in the room that will connect the feeling of the table to the rest of the room?

IvB:  If you have room, set up a buffet table next to the table in the dining room, so that you have an “overflow” area for serving plates, dishes, glassware and more. And decorate it in a similar fashion as the table. Use accessories to connect the look, from chargers to table linens. They don’t have to be matchy-matchy — in fact they shouldn’t be — but they should harmonize in some way with the table and the rest of the room. Lastly, hang a fall-colored wreath in the space — full and lush if you’re going traditional, or spare and sculptural if you’re going modern. Since we’re on the topic, make sure that the rest of your home is fall-focused, as well. Hang another wreath right at your door, so that people get excited for what’s inside.

 

 

Shop our Thanksgiving Sale!

*Last day for guaranteed shipping by Thanksgiving: Sunday, November 11, 2015