Ramadan is fast approaching, with iftar feasts and suhoor soirées that bring family and friends together to delve in the spiritual and festive experience of the Holy Month. When it comes to hosting a dinner, food, decor, and lighting are some of the factors involved in executing a memorable evening. To help you create a relaxed and inviting atmosphere, Vogue Arabia tapped the founders of Ecru, Noor Al Sabah and Nur Kaoukji, during the launch of their Spring 2017 collection pop-up at Sadu House in Kuwait, to share some of their best entertaining tips. Known for their contemporary lineup of home accessories, tablescaping accents, and printed linens with lunar motifs, the two tastemakers have a flair for throwing delightful dinners. They offer their hosting secrets that will inspire you to plan your own festive fête.
Less is more
“For a dinner I recently hosted in Jaipur, I filled a long table with brass lanterns, which I surrounded with garlands made from Indian roses,” says Kaoukji. Similar to peonies, the fragrant blooms added a pop of color and an organic touch to the ambient setting. “You don’t have to pile on the accessories to make an impression. Sticking to a theme and involving recurring accents can transform a space.”
Fire up the candles
Both Al Sabah and Kaoukji emphasize that candles are a must for setting the mood. “We make candlestick holders in every Ecru collection. It’s really important to have different heights, because it creates depth and texture,” says Kaoukji. “We have high brass designs, short glass ones, and hanging styles,” Al Sabah says. Referring to a trio of Moorish silhouette candle holders suspended from the ceiling, Al Sabah says: “Having them just hang over the dinner table is magnificent, because it doesn’t block the guests’ gaze. Also, getting the right lighting is important. You don’t want it to be too dark, where you are not able to see the guests or the food. We’re both big foodies, so for us it’s not just about the way the table looks, it has to be accessible too,” Al Sabah says.
The art of aromas
“At the dinner table, all your senses are involved,” says Al Sabah. “Anything that’s natural, Nur and I love. We like to use a lot of citrus and jasmine because it’s something that links both of us.” Kaoukji says jasmine has been her signature scent for years, while for Al Sabah, it conjures up memories of her childhood. “Growing up, our garden was filled with jasmine bushes,” she says. “We would string the flowers then loop them through the air condition vents in our cars to get a fresh blast of jasmine aroma.” To immerse your guests with a multisensory experience that’s not overwhelming, Kaoukji recommends complementing ambient fragrances with what’s on the menu. “We like to fill bowls with fresh herbs that are also included in the dishes. For instance, rosemary or za’atar are subtle, yet really play with your sense of smell.”
A play of trays
Known for their mirrored and creamy marble star-shaped trays, for Spring 2017 the founders introduced new trays crafted from resin and wood that are accented with mother-of-pearl. “They are lighter, so people can really pile on everything that they want,” says Kaoukji. However, it’s their one-meter long wooden display board that’s a real dinner party show-stopper. “We wanted it to be a little bit of a mad proportion that people are not used to,” Al Sabah says. “You see them at bakeries, but not really in the home. I think there’s nothing more beautiful than a cornucopia of vegetables, cheeses, herbs, spices, and fruits spread out on the table. It’s so welcoming and easy on the eyes. It’s an invitation to come in, use your hands, and enjoy yourselves.”
Your shoes don’t matter
“When I was younger, I remember my mother’s close friend telling me, ‘When you go to a dinner party, don’t worry about your shoes, what matters is what surrounds your face’,” Al Sabah says. “The focal point of your outfit should be from the shoulders up.” In addition to their collections of linens and home accessories is a line of buttery soft cotton kimonos, easy-to-wear kaftans, and light separates. “Our new collection features metallic beading all the way around the neckline. It’s really flattering when the candlelight bounces off the embellishments and your face lights up with the reflective glow,” says Al Sabah.
Ecru Spring 2017 collection is now available online.