Table Setting

Flower shows have two types of tables. These are FUNCTIONAL, a logical use setting as for food, or an EXHIBITION display, where the service of food is given no consideration and permits the appointments in any postion that makes a good design.

Funtional tables may be formal, semi formal, informal, or buffet, or tea table or segments. The formal or semi formal tables have an even number of place settins symmetrically placed. The decorative unit, or flower arrangement, including accessories, if used, is designed to permit conversation across the table. One should be able to see over it, or it should be airy or raised above eye-level and is usually in the center of the table.

Informal tables may be breakfast, lunch, brunch, supper, family dinner, outdoor or patio tables. They may have any number of place settings. The decorative unit may be placed in any area where it will not hinder conversation.

The functional table is fully set, with the exception of silver or flatware, and will include dishes, glassware, linens and a decorative unit with or without accessorios. Additional functional items might include coffee or tea servers, casseroles, salt and pepper servers, creamer and sugar bowl or wine bucket.

All such appointments should be properly placed according to overall balance and convenience in use. Napkins are required on functional tables, and any postion or fold is acceptable on formal tables, as long as it is easy for the diner to unfold and use. On formal tables the napkins may be placed in the exact center of the service plate or to the left of the place setting, with the fold facing the plate or neatly rolled in an appropriate napkin ring.

An exhibition segment is created primarly as an artistic design, without practical considerations, and appointments may be staged in any way that promotes distinction. They are usually staged against a backdrop that stimulates an up ended table top. The plate is usually placed perpendicularly on a stand, but its proximity to other appointments is left to the exhibitor to decide. Occasionally, two plates or napkins of different sizes and patterns are shown, or glass with a cup and saucer or other accessories may be used if space and schedule permit.
Proportion is the graceful relationship of one part to a structure or composition to another and to the whole. The proportion of unoccupied space to occupied area should be pleasing and should result in an uncluttered look but not appear bare or lacking in essentials. Any decorative unit (including candles) or accessories which crowd, detract from, or destroy the unity and harmony of the overall design, is penalized. The number of items and the number of place settings should be in proportion to the table area.
The balance may be symmetrical or asymmetrical according to the degree of formality, as long as a pleasing impression of stability results. Formal and semi-formal tables are traditionally symmetrical overall. The informal table may be neither, however; asymmetrical balance is more dynamic and permits more flexibility and freedom of placement.
The plates and napkins should be about an inch from the table edge. Plates or mats should be spaced evenly, the same distance apart, approximately 24 inches from center to center. A single large appointment should be balanced by another of the same visual weight or by a group of smaller items. Each item should be needed in the overall balance, and its mental removal should create imbalance.
Scale is the size relationship of component parts that make a specific whole. It is the size of the plates in relation to the size of the mats; the size of the glasses to the size of the plates. It is the size relationship of all of the elements in the design which make a unit consistent and pleasing. Thus, segment tables must be scaled to the space allowed.
Repetition, gradation and line direction are traditional ways of achieving rhythm in a design and apply as well to table settings. The eye should be carried over the table from setting to setting, object to object, the same as in judging rhythm in an arrangement. Rhythm unifies the elements by creating a feeling of motion. That motion carries the eye through the design. Rhythm can be achieved through repeated use of the same or similar textures, line or form as well as color, or by measured placement of china, crystal and line with the designated space.
Dominance and contrast are interdependent. Dominance is emphasis
Dominance calls attention to the most important feature by subordinating the less important ones. Contrast is present when we place elements together to emphasize their differences. Generally speaking the background of your table should be less conspicuous than the objects seen upon it. Therefore, the tablecloth should be one that does not attract too much attention. It should be muted in color and not overly decorated
Because the repetitious use of the table settings make them dominate'
Aeir color textures, and spirit are the keynote establishing the color harmony and degree of formality. Dominance is achieved by the repetition ot the keynote color, texture and material.
It is important to remember that contrast, to be effective, must be limited. It may be either a striking accent, or it may gently point up a dominant feature by relieving the monotony of repetition. Contrast is the necessary spice that adds variety and interest to dominance. When the principles of design are observed, the result is unity and harmony, and this is especially true in table settings.

Texture has been called the most important element in table settings.
Texture establishes the degree of formality; the more formal, the finer and smoother me textures of all the items, including the flowers, should be.
Texture is important in the unification of the whole, including cloth' napkins, flowers, accessories, place settings and glassware. Good taste and a sense of rightness should be. considered in the overall choices All items must be attractive and acceptable, never garish or vulgar. Color tie-ins create harmony and unity of relationships. When the basic color for the decorative unit is the hue of the china, and when multi-colored china is placed on a single color cloth, the color plan is usaually satisfying.The table covering should be selected to dramatize the china. Napkins should be cloth for all except the most informal picnic or barbecue set-up. The decorative unit should have definite affinity to either china, linen or glassware in color, texture and spirit.
On a fanctional table anything not needed in the service of food is considered a part of the decorative unit. This includes candles or a candelabrum or other accessories or figurines.

Distinction is defined as marked superiority in every respect. Distinction is a combination of beauty, technique, and absolute fitness, which results in superiority above the commonplace and which has a certain something almost undefinable. Distinction in a table setting is the result of perfect harmony of flowers, linens, glass, pottery, or china, accessories and an interesting and consistently followed color-scheme and restraint both in number of accessories and in their selection.
Functional Table Design
Glenn Fuqua
Dixie Rose Show, Memphis Botanic Garden, 10-19-03.

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