Tablescapes with Summerill & Bishop
Summerill & Bishop was founded by best friends June Summerill and Bernadette Bishop. Inspired by their shared love of entertaining, they opened the Summerill & Bishop flagship store on a quiet corner in London’s leafy Holland Park over 27 years. Summerill & Bishop design and create the world’s most beautiful tablecloths, many of which are thoughtfully hand painted and are crafted to become heirlooms of our time, to be passed down the generations. They stock unique objets d’art from a number of international artisans, including Astier de Villatte.
With Easter approaching, Cansel Seymen, Finchatton’s Associate FF&E Interior Designer, sat down with Seb Bishop, CEO and Creative Director, and discussed the best ways to style a table for Spring.
What are the most important things to consider when setting a table?
Setting your table doesn’t have to be an Instagrammable moment, it should feel personal. Stay true to what works for you and your family – these are your memories that you’re creating so do what feels natural to you. The table should always have personal items –people bring their day to the table, the good points and the bad and so the table is most successful when people are present – decorations need to try and inspire family memories that bring them back to the table, so small trinkets that have this ability are always a must for me.
The act of setting the table is straightforward, you’ll need a beautiful tablecloth and napkins and your favourite dinnerware of course but it’s the resulting conversation and connection that’s most important. Make the people at your table feel heard, if you’re celebrating a special occasion, perhaps a birthday for example, make that person feel special and seat them at the head of the table. The table should look beautiful and encourage people to sit at it for as long as possible. I’d say to always use flowers too, they’re a beautiful and important element to any table.
What trends have you seen arise this year?
We tend not to observe trends, the act of dining at a beautifully laid table is a timeless one. Our table linens, tableware and homeware items are carefully selected for their unique style and are neither trend or season led. We believe in beauty and practicality equally. That being said, we have seen a steady increase in demand for table linens over the past year, as more people dined at home than ever before.
What colours do you like to use on your spring table?
I’m alternating between our recently released Pink Hydrangea and Blossom table linens this spring – for both designs, we were inspired by our home here in Notting Hill. The communal gardens planted with bountiful hydrangeas were a much welcome sight during the first lockdown, whilst Blossom is our dedication to the blossom-lined streets that bloom here in powder pink every Spring.
What are your favourite accessories to style your table with?
In our house we like to place trinkets onto the table to make it feel more personal – such objects make for perfect little conversation starters. As the old adage goes, it’s the little things that make all the difference. Also, when we lay the table, we eat from ceramic bowls handmade by my wife and my kids handwrite the place settings – everyone contributes to the table in some way and so it feels unique to us as a family.
What would make up your ideal table? Do you like to include personal touches or traditions in your tablescape?
It really depends on the meal, who my guests are and maybe most importantly, the season that we’re in. If it’s Autumn, I’m drawn to moodier colours whereas in Summer, I like to use the brightest, happiest linen I can find. I’d then pick out a tablecloth and napkins that best suit the occasion and finally, I’d look to the finer detail. I’d use the tablecloth and napkins and pick elements from their design, to detail across the rest of the tabletop and use flowers and fallen leaves. When I was younger, my mother used to send me to fetch leaves that had fallen from the trees in our garden, which she’d use as placemats underneath the plates. I always thought that was special and is something which I still do with my own children.
Explore more about Summerill & Bishop’s work here.