TURNING THE TABLES By consensus, the most consistent trend in tabletop design is actually the shape and configuration of the tables themselves.

“Our clients are into mixing and matching table shapes and styles,” says Susie Perelman, owner of Pittsburgh-based linen rental company Mosaic Inc. So, say goodbye to a room full of 72-inch rounds, she explains: “My clients are mixing squares, rectangles and rounds for guest seating; they are clustering tables to create clover shapes or pods for larger groupings.” Additionally, long communal tables, made popular by gastropubs, are in demand for both social and corporate events.

Varying table height is also essential to design and flow. “We are seeing a definite shift from the formal sit-down using 60-inch rounds to incorporating more cocktail tables and stand-ups, especially for business functions,” says Greg Jenkins, partner at Long Beach, Calif.-based Bravo Productions, noting such a configuration provides for better networking opportunities.

Janet McLoughlin of North Reading, Mass.-based Picture Perfect Parties offers another take on cocktail seating. “Place standard banquet tables on 42-inch pedestals and add bar chairs for a chic look,” she says. “I also see square dining tables being used more and more frequently.”

OLD AND NEW As for what tops the table, blending styles—vintage with contemporary, rustic with elegant—is still trending at both corporate and social events.

“Vintage and eclectic look great, either separately or together, but decor items must somehow relate to each other in order to be successful,” says Joanne Hulme of South Jersey Party Rentals, based in Haddon Heights, N.J. “I like to see a Philippe Starck ‘Ghost’ chair at a farmhouse table with contemporary flatware, an older designed charger plate, and a clean, simple dinner plate, alongside the family silver and other personal mementos.” 

A TALE OF TWO ERAS “No matter what the trend is in tabletop design, in order for it to stand out, it must entertain in some way,” McLoughlin says. “Every tabletop should tell a story and have a sense of theater.” To that end, the stories being told on today’s tabletops are taking place in two distinct decades: the 1920s and the 1980s.

Not surprisingly, the Baz Luhrmann film “The Great Gatsby” is having impact on the former. “We’re seeing a lot of interest in this theme, pulling references from art deco, flappers and bold geometrics,” Perelman says. The chevron—the quintessentially art deco shape--is “leading the way on the pattern front with its fun, graphic energy,” she notes ...

See the full story in the July-August issue of Special Events, which is available to ISES members for free and to subscribers. Not a subscriber? We can fix that; just click here.