Inside Design: Amy Atlas
STYLE AT HOME: Tell us about your baking background.
AMY ATLAS: I’ve always had a soft spot for sweets. I grew up watching my grandmother bake, and my fondest memory from childhood is sitting in her sunny kitchen, watching her pull homemade rocky road cake out of the oven.
S@H: What kind of birthday parties did you have as a kid and throw as a teenager?
AA: From a very young age, I was entertaining friends and family. I was known for my perfectly executed dinner parties that culminated in beautiful, creative dessert bars.
S@H: But you pursued a career in politics and law. How did you make the jump into event planning?
AA: I tapped into my creative side after taking a break from my career while I raised my kids. I don't have a background in design, but I’ve always had a good eye for style and have grown as a designer through the trial and error of creating.
S@H: How did you earn the name The Sweets Stylist?
AA: I was really the first to bring fashion and design to sweets. Since dessert is the final vestige of a lovely gathering, it should be the most memorable course. There isn’t a lot of fanfare around dessert, but it’s the perfect canvas for beautiful design.
S@H: How would you describe your style?
AA: I pair fabrics, crafts and beautiful vessels with sugary confections to make gorgeous displays for my clients. I love mixing what’s traditional and expected with what’s bold and unexpected, especially when it comes to pattern and colour. My favourite part of the creative process is inventing the palette.
S@H: How do you tailor events to an individual’s personality?
AA: Take one or two elements that are personal to the host – a favourite colour, theme or sweet treat – and make sure they shine throughout the table.
S@H: From cupcakes to macarons, what treats are trending this year?
AA: I get a lot of requests for doughnuts, and pies are making a big comeback, too! Also trending right now is a boho-chic look – I’m doing a lot with candy in interesting containers, like vintage coloured bottles.
S@H: What about refreshments? What should a host serve?
AA: Serve up a signature drink that works with the colour scheme. At a recent orange-themed bridal shower, for example, we served mimosas.
S@H: What other projects do you have in the oven right now?
AA: My first book, called Sweet Designs, will debut in spring 2012. It’s all about dressing up delicious desserts. 1 Create the dessert table around something that inspires you. It can be as personal as a family heirloom or as simple as the pattern on your invitations. Let the dessert table tell a story.
2 Sample the dessert vendors before hiring them. A beautiful cake isn’t always the best-tasting cake! The key is to find the right balance.
3 Get as much done in advance of the party as possible so you can troubleshoot any problems.
4 Select desserts that not only look good together but also provide a balance for your guests’ palates.
5 Complete the look of your dessert table with a beautiful backdrop and other decor elements.
6 Linens and vessels should have a coordinated, tailored look since the sweets will be the star of the dessert table.
7 Personalize the table with unique signage and tags made by your local stationer.
8 Keep location and weather in mind. A chocolate buffet, for example, is not the best option for an outdoor summer party.
9 Try to position the table close to the kitchen and in a spacious room for easy traffic flow.
10 Give guests something to remind them of how sweet the day was – provide goodie bags full of take-home desserts