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Meet the Creatives Weaving Magic and Wonder into Hosting and Artful Tablescaping

Dive into the heart of artful tablescaping with the creatives weaving magic and wonder into hosting.

Gaïa Baroudi

hosting tablescaping

Setting the table is something akin to poetry for Gaïa Baroudi; an art passed down to her from all the women of her family. “What most influences what I do today is the fact that I grew up surrounded by women who hosted in such a gracious way,” she shares. “Tables were always effortlessly elegant with gorgeous tableware. Everything was always done so generously, and all details were thought of.”

This approach to the art de la table guides her to this day as she weaves her imagination into stunning tablescapes. The Beirut-born creative seems to have done it all, from a Roman blue theme dominated by vases to a fruit-laden luncheon upon a mountaintop and even tables for Hermès and Bulgari. While one can find the usual candlelight and abundant flora on her tables, Baroudi is anything but predictable; a stunning tablescape crafted from coconuts, seashells, mushrooms, and pearls provides sufficient testimony. “No detail is too small,” she says. “From using quality objects to the little detail placed on each plate, it all matters in creating an outstanding table.” These aspects are often inspired by nature or the places she has traveled to, such as Paris, India, or the Arabian Peninsula. “I love adapting my tables and setups to different spaces, cultures, and environments,” she says.

hosting tablescaping

The importance of the table underscores everything that she does. “It’s where people celebrate, where intimate moments are shared, where good food and good moments intertwine, and where multicultural people reunite. It is, in fact, so much more than just a beautifully set table; it is a magical experience.” For those hoping to bring some of this magic into their lives, she says, “Work with what inspires you, think out of the box, look for answers in nature. Don’t follow trends; the beauty of something comes from its uniqueness.”

Top Picks

A memorable theme: Anything that’s untraditional, out of the box, and triggers the mind
Music to entertain: So many different genres; it really all depends on what kind of dinner you’re hosting
Must-not-miss on a tablescape: Unexpected statement elements

Joy & Roses

Earlier this year, as the luxury perfume house Creed launched its latest fragrance at the Yacht Club in Beirut, a mystic tablescape mirrored the Carmina perfume and the brand itself. Featuring pink plexiglass and the magenta and purple hues of Carmina, the table was a testimony to the fine attention to detail and expertise of its creators – Joy Bawab and Rosarita Tawil of Joy & Roses.

“Hosting and gathering around food is a form of art,” states Bawab. “It brings people together and creates magic and joy… it’s like therapy, be it with friends, family, around Christmas, Ramadan, or even for the simplest reason of celebrating life.” This very appreciation for relationships and the emotions they evoke lies at the heart of Joy & Roses. When Bawab and Tawil met years ago on a shoot, it was their friendship that eventually blossomed into a shared passion for art and the finer details in life.

hosting tablescaping

However, it is not this bond alone that has turned Joy & Roses into a coveted choice for tablescaping and artful decor. At the center of this venture lies a creative relationship, one where Bawab applies her experience as an artist and interior architect, while Tawil brings her business management prowess and the eye for detail that comes with being crowned Miss Lebanon in 2008. “As an interior architect and painter, art is in my blood,” shares Bawab. “I believe influence and inspiration come from both work and life experiences; it’s how we take advantage of it that counts.”

While the pair finds creative stimulation in almost everything that surrounds them, from a “leaf in nature or a bird on the balcony,” their Lebanese heritage remains a guiding hand. “The different cultures we see in this country shape you without you even noticing it. It becomes part of you and opens your eyes and minds in beautiful ways,” explains Bawab. No surprise then that, much like their country, the duo is resilient with big plans.

hosting tablescaping

“Our ambitions are vast as we aim to broaden our client base across new regions,” says Bawab. “As two women with an artistic touch, we are dedicated to infusing our unique skills into every aspect of our planning services. Our goal is to be trendsetters in the industry, expand our talented team, and, most importantly, maintain client satisfaction as the cornerstone of our business.”

Top Picks

A detail to remember: Choose a focal point that adds a touch of elegance and draws attention. From a stunning centerpiece to a floral arrangement, it could be anything.
A dish that never fails to impress: A beautifully plated beef Wellington!
Tableware essentials: A set of elegant and versatile white dinner plates from Baccarat, Bernardaud, Christofle, or Saint Louis

Project Pina

An artfully laid out table is something that comes naturally to Susan Amin. The founder of the interior design firm Project Pina has a vivid passion for tastefully decorated interiors and the art of entertainment. “There is something about creating an environment where connections flourish and meaningful conversations unfold around a beautifully set table. For me, a home filled with laughter and the shared warmth of good company is the ultimate expression of the art of living,” she says.

hosting tablescaping

Recently, a garden in Germany was transformed into this warm and inviting environment that Amin strives to create. She hosted a lunch for her close friends at a table that featured handpicked flowers in charming vases and a display of seasonal fruits. “Draw inspiration from nature or the season, letting the inherent beauty of your surroundings guide your design,” she advises those whom her table settings might inspire. “Choose a specific palette,” she adds. “Let your floral arrangements take the lead, allowing their colors to flow seamlessly into your choice of linens and other decor accents such as vases, ceramic or metallic candle holders, and candlesticks, to create a cohesive and inviting atmosphere.”

While nature may guide her approach to setting a table, Amin looks for inspiration in the different eras of history and her own cultural heritage as a Palestinian who has spent over 30 years in the UAE. A driving force behind her venture is her husband, who enjoys cooking as much as she loves hosting. “Our shared journey led us both to pursue our passions, but right from the start, we equally enjoyed entertaining in our home,” she shares, demonstrating how the art de la table can be so much more than it first appears.

Top Picks

Delectable finger food: Bruschetta with fresh tomatoes, basil, and a hint of garlic
Flowers that uplift any table: Seasonal ones, peonies, and tulips
A drink for every dinner: A spicy grapefruit and lime mocktail

The Marzook Kitchen

hosting tablescaping

Shouq and Fahad Al Marzook with their mother

The art of tablescapes has been celebrated since the late 18th century. It has since been passed down through generations, spanning cultures and varying styles that fit their exuberant aesthetic. That is how The Marzook Kitchen’s venture into the tablescape and culinary industry began. “The Marzook Kitchen starts with the first generation in our family, from our grandmother, to our mother, and then down to us,” shares cofounder, Kuwaiti Shouq Al Marzook.

Initially, the vision was sparked when Shouq and her brother Fahad were curating a personalized tablescape for their mother’s birthday, including family heirlooms and keepsakes. “We went all out to create a setting that reflected her personality and style, with her favorite colors, flowers, and dishes taking center stage. It was a heartfelt tribute to our mom, who inspired this whole project, and seeing her smile made all the effort worthwhile. It’s a memory we will always hold dear,” says Shouq.

hosting tablescaping

Vibrant colors of spices and the opulence of Arabian hospitality form the foundations of The Marzook Kitchen

The sibling duo dived into the art of setting tables, calling their new endeavor, “a representation of our love journey of food and creativity. We’re constantly challenging ourselves to push boundaries and explore new ideas, ensuring that each journey reflects the essence of Marzook while also resonating with our audience.”

Shouq and Fahad each hone a specific skill set, which allows them to encapsulate their strengths and amalgamate them to start their venture. “Shouq adores cooking, and Fahad is a genius at creating beautiful spaces,” they stated of each other. Fahad’s eye for creative detail and skillful aptitude to curate a mise en scène that acts as an accessory to the food presented – encompassing alluring flowers, ceramics, and candles – has allowed the duo to embark on their artistic escapade. “We realized that by putting our efforts together we can create a one-of-a-kind dining experience in the comfort of people’s homes, and with Ramadan approaching, it’s a perfect time to launch and offer something specific for those celebrating.”

The pair have been outspoken about how their Middle Eastern roots and heritage have played a pivotal role in their creativity. “For Marzook Kitchen, we drew inspiration from the rich traditions of Middle Eastern cuisine, the vibrant colors of spices, the opulence of Arabian hospitality, and the modern elegance of our brand,” they divulge.

hosting tablescaping

“Our table is like a chameleon, effortlessly blending in with any aesthetic you throw its way. It’s the perfect canvas for expressing creativity – we infuse our tablescapes with a unique perspective and authenticity.” Fahad and Shouq also count their audience a driving factor. “Our connection with people is paramount to everything we do. We’re inspired by their feedback and enthusiasm, and also excited to have our mom take center stage as the face of the brand for this new venture and see where this journey takes us, and how we can continue to grow and evolve along the way.”

Originally published in the March 2024 issue of Vogue Arabia

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