Tablescaping: New Irish brand Acquerello wants to bring colours of the Mediterranean to your table

Annie Dunne’s Acquerello focuses on mix-and-match tableware with vibrant and colourful motifs

The word tablescaping, blending table and landscape together, more prosaically known as decorative table setting, came into prominence when coined by US chef Sandra Lee in 2003.

Since then, it has become a buzz word and a new area of interior design with pundits offering all sorts of dreamscape advice and ideas on how to improve the decor of a dining table, for special occasions indoors or outdoors, from alfresco barbecues to festive gatherings.

The aim of the exercise is to elevate the basic everyday arrangement of cutlery, glass, napkins and plates, whether formal, casual, basic or buffet, for maximum impact with flowers, interesting textures and colours – usually never as easy as it looks. Some specialists suggest themed displays to make an impression or create talking points for guests.

Here in Ireland Oilbhe Belfast offers stylish new ways to tablescape with Irish linen napkins, placemats and candles for seasonal, eye-catching displays.


Others, like Kate O’ Dowd of Love and Gathering, specialise in wedding table decor to please the eye, and live up to the promised expectations of further delights. As the Japanese say, the first bite is with the eye.

The latest Irish newcomer to tablescaping is event designer Annie Dunne of AD Design, who has just launched a collection of high-quality tableware called Acquerello. Dunne has extensive experience in planning, from weddings to intimate birthdays, as well as working with the global members’ club Soho House. Her new collection is drawn from her love of travel, and the frustration in transporting home her collections of very fragile, or heavy, ceramics from distant corners of the world.

Dunne calls Aquerello a travel-inspired tableware brand drawn from different destinations, each piece hand-painted and crafted by an independent woman-led artisan atelier in Portugal.

Dunne designs the vibrant and colourful motifs, “so it is a joint effort between us and is about craft and sustainability and not mass manufacturing”, she says. There are platters, bowls, jugs, candle holders, serving plates and salad bowls in five collections called Crete, Marrakesh and Seville, along with two others in blue and green spongeware all designed to interact with each other. Prices range from €16 for mugs up to €90 for platters.

Beautifying a table is nothing new for those who want to make an impression on their guests, a practice that reached a height of extravagance in the 18th century when the table displays of wealthy aristocrats holding lavish banquets spoke volumes of the hosts’ standing in society.

“There is still an element of showing off the care of dressing a table,” says Dunne, “but buying little-known brands that nobody has seen before and that feel more artisanal has a story to tell in itself. Casual dining has become such a big thing now, that there is nothing more charming than a white tablecloth with mix-and-match tableware”.

Find out more at

Sign up for push alerts and have the best news, analysis and comment delivered directly to your phone

Read More