The art of tablescaping with LAY London / Culture , Design
The art of tablescaping with LAY London

Hostesses with the mostest. LAY London’s Alice Herbert speaks on the joyful artform of tablescaping.

Hostesses with the mostest. LAY London’s Alice Herbert speaks on the joyful artform of tablescaping.

Meet the modern tablescape tastemakers whose conversation-starting table settings make for the most memorable of dinner parties.

The elaborate ornamentation of tables – or tablescaping as it is affectionately coined – has been a cultural phenomenon since the 18th century, when aristocracy would showcase their wealth with sumptuous centrepieces and tableware at lavish dinner parties.

Fast-forward to the present day and dinner-party decoration has undergone a contemporary renaissance. A quick search of “#tablescape” on Instagram or Pinterest bears witness to the millions of enthusiasts layering crockery, foliage and fabrics to create aesthetically-pleasing dining settings.

Speaking on the artform is Alice Herbert of LAY London, a tablescaping company she heads alongside her sister and co-founder, Jemima. Their London-based service is synonymous with bold colours, eclectic patterns and eye-catching ornaments – with a mission to create table tops that tell stories.

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What was your journey to create LAY London?

We both had experience in the luxury events industry and noticed how the trend for statement table settings was expanding beyond brand events; it was moving towards private and at-home hosting, and naturally, the sharing of tablescapes via Instagram!

We started LAY London in 2020 as a luxury tablescape rental company, and have since expanded into bespoke event styling, with an online store for beautifully crafted tableware. A greater spotlight and creative flair are now placed on the table when hosting, and so we want to help bring a bit of magic to both larger events and for those hosting at home. 

Walk us through your vision and process. Where do you find your inspiration and how would you describe LAY’s signature style? 

Our focus is on thoughtful design with whimsical details in joyful combinations. We are great enthusiasts in bold colour palettes, interesting fabrics and a variety of textures to add character to the table. A great place to start a vision for the table is with a colour scheme – this could be inspired by the season, the venue, the occasion or theme. Or perhaps we’ll have a fabric we are longing to use on the table, and this will guide our choices of tableware and flowers.

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What are your top tips for table decoration, across different seasons and festivities?

We think the one item worth investing in is a wow-factor tablecloth. At the heart of LAY lies a love of bold prints and so we always say: more is more. If the tableware isn't hugely colourful, starting with a joyful base means you can't go too wrong. A pastel, flowery print is a great pick for spring, stripes in summer, and in autumn, opt for deep purples, oranges, reds and ambers. Blue and white is a great colour combo all year round.

For us, flowers are the best way to add either a rainbow of colours, or a chic two-tone scheme to the table. Blue and white hydrangeas always look sumptuous and, in autumn, the rich tones of dahlias are a wonderful statement feature on the table. For lunches or dining al fresco, potted herbs and lavender plants create a garden look with the added element of scent.   

We love to use tall, glossy candles on the table. Even when unlit – say for a lunch – they add pops of colour and a sense of occasion to hosting. We often opt for glossy dinner candles in different shades along the table to capture the eye. Red and white candles are great for festive dining, and a mix of tropical brights look great against a white tablecloth. 


Renting is gaining popularity across so many sectors. How does it feel being part of a wider movement for a greener future, and do you have any standout sustainable aspects of your tablescaping?

When we launched in 2020, the rental market was gathering momentum and consumer consciousness awakening to perils of single-use. It seemed the right moment to create a user-friendly tableware rental service with a focus on style and craftsmanship: the likes of which was not yet available in London. 

We are always conscious of what we are using, from the rental side and our event styling to our online store. We style hen parties, baby showers and festive celebrations, and enjoy the creativity of bringing a theme to life without the need for cheap plastic or gimmicky décor. We love the finish of handmade products and it makes all the difference to the look of the table. Our LAY marbled dinner candles are hand-dipped in Italy and it means that each one has a unique colour combination! We take care to source objects that are beautifully made – and made to last.

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Do you have a favourite dinner party game or entertainment?

Naturally, after the table decoration, we find that music is the most important component at a dinner party – and it’s free! It sets the tone for the evening and makes all the difference in warming up the atmosphere for guests in the “mingling” moments before dinner. Salsa or Cuban music creates a party vibe and may inspire guests to get up and dance after dinner (perhaps on the table too).

What’s your dream dining spot?

For lunch in London – in a dream world – we would head riverside to the River Café. Great view and great people watching! And by night, we both love Casa Cruz in Notting Hill for the best cocktails. Their chic table lamps and rose-gold metallic walls are also great for tablescaping inspiration.

Let LAY London’s tablescapes do the talking at your event. Head to LAY London’s website to enquire about bespoke styling and rental services.


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