The ritual of table setting is something of a long-lost art. Many of us, myself included, ignore the nuances of cooking and plating, giving it up for the convenience of food delivery. Even so, I’ve come to realize that nothing satisfies better than a well-prepared and well-cooked meal, ideally one that I’ve prepared myself. To compensate for my food ordering habits, I decided to research anything that fits into the ideal tablescape. You read correctly, tablescape.
Researching all the elements associated with table setting trends, I discovered different iterations of the perfect tablescape to determine my own preferences. While inexpensive cutlery certainly has its appeal (especially when you’re on a budget), few things compare to a gracefully crafted set, each piece of which rests ergonomically between your thumb and forefinger. And when you’ve finally cleared all the house specialties waiting for you, you’re greeted with another pleasant surprise: beautifully crafted dishes, bone-white or awash in playful patterns. Although the food was excellent, the old adage “you eat with your eyes” seems to have stood the test of time, as cutlery tied another meal together.
With a season full of meals, entertainment and time with loved ones fast approaching, I thought it was the perfect time to write a guide to table setting trends over the years. year.
1920s: formal and floral
In the 1920s, as you can imagine, “setting the table” was quite the rage. Dinners, or soirees, were held in magnificent mansions that were, in retrospect, harbingers of the coming economic downturn. No worries, though. Properly placed crockery would ensure that the night goes off without a hitch. And be properly placed, in the 1920s the dinner table had to be laid out in a very specific way. Each guest’s designated eighteen-inch area was called a blanket. According to a 1929 article on the table etiquette of the San Pedro News Pilot, each cover had a serving plate in the middle, flanked by forks on the left and a knife and tablespoon on the right. In its proper location, each piece of silverware would be exactly one inch from the edge of the table.
Transferware dishes easily brought provincial, French toiled-style images to the American masses. Although often seen in the classic blue and white colorway, many dishes popular at the time also had pastoral scenes in maroon red or dark golden brown. Coordinating silverware sets would be complemented by beautiful floral scrollwork, another reminder of simpler times before America began its process of industrialization. Or maybe I’m looking too far.