“Those baked clay bricks of a handsome Georgian city, that smouldering peat in the back of the hearth, the steaming spuds on the Sunday table, that memory of a friend.
It’s worth digging for those things beneath the surface.”
The Kinfolk philosophy of slowing down and taking time to appreciate the simple things in life has always resonated with me, not to mind the fact that I’m more than a little bit obsessed with their aesthetic style and magazine. So when Irish hosts, Joi and Damien of 31 Chapel Lane asked would I like to come on board as a partner to style their inaugural Irish gathering, you can imagine my answer was more than a bit enthusiastic! Titled, Beneath the Surface, this event aimed to gather together people in Dublin and celebrate all the rich winter offerings that lay just hidden beneath the surface. It will be memorable for me for so many reasons but not least because I had my own secret hidden beneath the surface that evening, I’m expecting my first baby later this year which will certainly be the start of a whole new adventure!
Inspired by the taste, texture and palette of earthy root vegetables, I wanted to make sure that the styling of the event reflected all of the characteristics of these hidden treasures. The Work and Welders is actually used as a warehouse most of the time but had so much potential that we knew it would be worth the effort to transform it into an event space. A stellar team came together in the few days before the dinner to clear all of the stock being stored. I sourced a black dividing curtain to give structure to the huge open room and once the long trestle tables were put in place and cafe lights strung across the ceiling, the magic started to happen. Joi and Damien allowed me to make full use of their gorgeous collection of linens, placing an earthy neutral linen piece (yes that’s one piece of linen!) along the length of the tables as the foundation. Mix and match linen napkins were dotted in between place settings and the berry colour of the locally grown hellebores arranged by Claire and Patsy of the Informal Florist brought exactly the richness that I was hoping for.
Food stylist Ajda Mehmet kept the arriving guests entertained with a workshop on salt baking root vegetables and Joi showcased how to dye linens using root vegetables as a base, before all the treats of the evening were served. Kate of the Wildflour Bakery and Seaneen of Mulligans grocers worked together to create a feast which included delights such root vegetable crisps, beetroot black pudding and purple hasselback potatoes. It was a memorable meal from start to finish and one of the highlights for me was Kate’s rhubarb, juniper and violet cake which you’ll see above, and trust me it tasted even better than it looks! Rincy Koshy of A Little Bird did such a wonderful job of capturing the event and it’s so nice to have all the images to relive it.
Claire and Patsy brought warmth into the space weaving greenery, branches and roots into different nooks and crannies, reflecting the force of nature. I had reached out to Cory of Four Hats Press to see if she could create some custom stationary and signs for the event which would reflect the root vegetable inspiration. She created a beautiful handwritten booklet with root motif which we filled with the poem Digging by Seamus Heaney, and allowed space for people to share recipes and contacts on the back. It was the perfect finishing touch for the tables which I laid with pottery from Irish craftsman Stephen Pearce. I fell in love with his Shanagarry design, as the earthy clay tones of the pieces brought the whole table styling together.
None of the plans could have come together without each member of the team sharing their strength and skills but I cannot say enough about how hard the lovely Joi and Damien worked to ensure the evening was all we hoped for and more. As the first Irish Kinfolk hosts they brought tireless enthusiasm, energy and drive to bring the dinner to life and I can’t thank them enough for allowing me to be part of such a special event. And thanks to the fantastic group of people who showed up that night! No matter how much preparation goes into an event, it’s the combination of people and the dynamic of new faces that really makes or breaks an evening. I walked away that night energised by the stories they shared confident that there would be quite a few faces I’d be seeing regularly in the future!
Image Credits: Rincy Koshy | Partners: 31 Chapel Lane | Ajda Mehmet | Ciara O’Halloran | Delightful Dublin | Four Hats Press | The Informal Florist | Nine Bean Row | Wildflour Bakery | Lilliput Stores | Stephen Pearce Pottery