Isabelle Von Boch tells us why everyone, from George Clooney to the Pope, believes that eating off good tableware is a lifestyle enhancing experience
Whether you enjoy a leisurely breakfast, entertain boisterous groups of friends or sit down to a relaxing dinner with your family every day, Isabelle Von Boch believes each meal can be enjoyed with good tableware that should never be stashed in the China cabinet “till the Queen comes to visit”. At her newly-launched store in Bangalore, the articulate eighth-generation member of the famous Villeroy & Boch empire demonstrates her practical, no-nonsense approach to table elegance. “I’m not selling anybody anything. I’m inspiring people to change their life and to appreciate what matters,” she clarifies.
Dressed in a vibrant India-inspired tunic by her favourite designer Tory Burch, Von Boch tells us she is aware first hand of the challenges of being a working mum with no domestic help and growing kids. “I believe in big one-dish meals or good quality take-out supplemented with fresh salads made at home. I am not the greatest cook but my food tasted way better thanks to my imaginative table settings. After all, we eat with our eyes first, then our taste buds. I make up for the limited food in the Boch home by creating an illusion of plenty by adding rich layers of porcelain in pretty patterns and colours to the table. It is also a great way to stay slim,” she twinkles.
Von Boch, of French-German lineage, is now settled in California with her psychologist husband (they met at a Grateful Dead concert in Europe). Her childhood was close to idyllic. “We were seven children growing up on the family estate, a large sprawling chateau which also housed the factory. We ate fish from our lake, vegetables from our garden and venison from our personal forests — all naturally organic. Now, since I travel so much, I limit myself to vegetarian food though I am a flexitarian at heart (I make exceptions for things like foie gras) and my husband and daughter are vegan,” she tells us describing how her 265-year-old family business rooted in European fine dining is kept alive through a blend of design innovation, current fashion and history, and is enjoyed by royalty and celebrities like George Clooney, Brad Pitt and several generations of Popes.
Isabelle Von Boch on table dressing
- Always add candles, whether serving pizza or a big celebratory meal. It completely changes the ambience. Use clear glass or an eclectic array of colours, switch around the shapes and heights. Use long and short candlesticks, footed hurricanes, votives, vases or even tealights in your old-fashioned bar glasses.
- Keep ketchup bottles, cans or take-out containers off the table. Use pretty bottles and bowls, instead.
- Pick a dinnerware pattern that speaks to you. It is like buying usable art. That’s the difference between someone living a mundane life and a passionate life. If it turns you on, that’s what it’s all about. How can your day get off to a great start if you drink your first cuppa in a chipped mug?
- If you have a casual lifestyle, don’t bother getting all formal. We make transitional dinnerware that you can use for breakfast and take all the way up to a formal holiday dinner with ease.
- Dress your table up or down with place mats or table linens. If you start out with white, add coloured chargers, brocade, lace, and silk. When you shop for table accessories, take along a piece of your dinnerware to see what will work.
- Go versatile. Don’t limit the use of your gravy or sugar bowls. Use them for salad dressings, dips, sauces or even flowers on a breakfast tray.
- Use things you already have (keepsakes, statuary, containers) and put it in the middle of a table. Add some foliage from your yard, float some candles.
- When entertaining at home, do potlucks. A good party is about having a great time and not about how much food you’re going to cook. And a beautiful table that encourages everyone to linger and chat.
A tea set ranges from Rs 35,000 to Rs 1 lakh. Individual dinner plates start at Rs 2,300. At UB City, Vittal Mallya Road, Bangalore. Details: 07738881125
— Jackie Pinto