East meets West: Asian-inspired decor
At an East-meets-West themed party, floral designer Frank Rea of Forget Me Not in Oakville, Ont., dramatically blends Asian style with an art deco decor. His creative ideas are adaptable to any theme, and are guaranteed to wow your guests.
Bamboo stalks are relatively easy to arrange. "Keep the arrangement asymmetrically balanced, which is more visually interesting than a totally symmetrical one," says Frank Rea. Here, the stalks are "bedded" in polished black river stones. Glass votives are lined up behind the thick-glass-bottom vases, giving the illusion that the lit candles are underwater. Graphic shapes and a strong but simple green-and-white colour scheme create loads of impact in this Eastern-influenced display.
"Green arrangements are very hot right now," says Frank. "In Paris, they're everywhere -- in hotel lobbies, shops." Orchids, spiky lily grass and mammoth Monstera leaves are arranged in tall dark-green bamboo tubes. "We needed elevation because the ceilings were so high and the bamboo worked with the theme," says Frank. He says arrangements on buffet tables should be at or above eye level, so you don't lose them among platters and utensils.
The square motif that was present in the room's furnishings is reinforced by square vases, which Frank grouped for impact. Black river rocks that line the bottom set off white orchid blooms and candles. Square votive candles were melted together so that they'd float in the centre of the vases. Bamboo stalks and votives are displayed on a shallow ledge along the perimeter of the room. On the main table, limes, grapes, bamboo stalks, banana leaves, unripened bananas and braided bamboo trees, which were added for impact and height, create a medley of greens.
Here are designer Frank Rea's foolproof tips for designing and throwing a party that's perfect.
•Use containers for arrangements that build on the theme, like bamboo tubes for an East-meets-West party, or distressed terra-cotta flowerpots for a Tuscan look.
•Work with existing decor. "Go with what the decor suggests, and stay with one colour scheme if there isn't a consistent look in the house," says Frank. "That way you can create flow from the street to foyer, cocktail area and reception area."
•Create impact. "You have to have an edge," says Frank. It can be one exotic leaf on a table, like a huge banana leaf layered over stalks of bamboo or dramatic Monstera leaves used as placemats or placed beneath a serving platter.
•Stagger arrangements on a buffet table, leaving room for food trays. If there's a light fixture hanging over the centre of the table, put two main arrangements on either end of the table rather than one in the middle for a more balanced display.
•Keep arrangements in proportion to the size and scale of the room. "Ceiling height and room size affect the scale of the treatment," Frank says. "Don't overpower a room unless you're going for a tropical jungle theme or maybe a secret garden."
•Prepare a menu and use accessories that support your theme. Use lighting, linens, cutlery and china to create a blank canvas for colourful food; or, for even more punch, serve food that matches your colour scheme.
•Choose flowers that fit the theme. Delicate lily-of-the-valley blooms and a Zen-garden-theme dinner party don't go, just as dramatic foliage like Alocasia leaves at a Parisian salon-theme luncheon would stand out like weeds in a parterre.