David Stark on Entertaining with Intention

David Stark's new book, The Art of the Party. Are you a David Stark fan? I absolutely am. He’s a New York based Celebrity Event Designer but that title doesn’t convey how remarkable his events are. There are plenty of event designers out there who can put on a lovely event. But what sets David Stark apart from the rest is his creative vision and approach to the design of the event as a whole. His events have something extra. Something special.  It is the intention with which he puts on his events, that give them life.  I’m dying to check out his new book, David Stark: The Art of the Party It has 25 of his events (including private parties and charitable galas) and shares how he developed the overall theme for each party, as well as the coordinated details and expertly crafted decor he created for each party.

I’ve always been drawn to his work. His creativity reaches far past the realm of entertaining and is next level. He is an inspiration to me so when I got an email from “his people” I was so excited to a get the chance to ask him a few quick questions.

What unexpected places do you draw inspiration from when brainstorming for a new event?

Hardware store event inspo. Hanging ladders spell out "make" -  event by David Stark.

Inspiration can come from anywhere. David Stark shares some of his biggest inspiration triggers.

Think differently, what is the meaning behind the event, draw it out through the decor.

David Stark shares where he draws his inspiration from.“I am really open to the world of options and influences when coming up with ideas.  Of course, the flower market and farmers markets often provide natural inspirations, but I look to a bevy of other options both live and digital (Pinterest and Instagram are a never ending pathway for ideas!) to bring us to unique, new concepts for our projects.  Here are just a handful of places we hunt low and high for materials, ideas and concepts:

Hardware stores, the fashion runway, films, theater, music, antique fairs and stores, museums, art galleries, supermarkets, books, art supply stores, travel, magazines, history, architecture.”

What event, that you created, really let your creative juices flow?

“As we are right in the midst of planning and designing the upcoming Whitney Museum Gala (the last event that will be held in the Marcel Breuer building before the institution moves into its new home downtown), I can’t help but think a lot about last year’s event – we’re REALLY proud of that evening which was not just a party, but an art happening

Interactive displays added to the Whitney Gala designed by David Stark.The centerpiece of the event was a life drawing “class” replete with nude models posing on stacks of vintage Louis Vuitton trunks (the ever chic retailer was the evening’s sponsor).  Throughout the evening, hundreds of guests at easels surrounded the model platform, making scores of drawings of the varying poses.  This was living décor — so interactive, but it also brought attention to the beginning of the Whitney Museum and it’s archives of life drawings which we projected throughout the space in an ever changing landscape of drawn décor.

David Stark creatively approaches each event by finding the meaning of the organization behind it.

David Stark on inspiration and planning large scale events.Above the long, rectangular dining tables dressed in artists’ canvas, an optical illusion of painting stretchers floated overhead while an array of paint cans and brushes marched down the dining tables as if an artist was on break from his or her painting.

Quote from David Stark about how he approaches designing and creating events. This evening perfectly illustrated one of our entertaining philosophies:  Create a conceptual moment in time in which the essence of an organization is put into three dimensions.  This is not about decorating.  Rather, it’s really about integrating what an institution is about, what an evening is about, impregnating meaning into the décor.”

I started out these questions thinking I was going to get a little bit in to the mind of creative genius. But really I got in to the heart. Entertaining is about so much more than the decor and the food.  It’s about entertaining with intention. While most of us won’t have an opportunity to work with Target or the Whitney on a large-scale event, we do celebrate our friends and family on a smaller scale. The truth is, what makes an event special is thinking beyond the decorating and really understanding why we are having the event in the first place. What is the “essence” of your guest of honor? Start from there and then intentionally plan your event with those traits, likes, passions in mind.

Sometimes I see a well designed, coordinated party being shared online, and while every detail is in place and it is quite lovely, there is something missing. It’s the heart and intention. I am absolutely going to make that a priority when planning my own events.

I feel grateful to have gotten to ask these questions of David. Follow his Instagram and Pinterest to see the cool things that are inspiring him. And go buy David Stark: The Art of the Party! Man, now I’m all fired up! I’ve got lots of entertaining focused posts coming up…looking forward to going a little deeper on these and letting my creativity out.

All photos courtesy of Susie Montagna for David Stark Design.

*This is not a sponsored post. I just really think David Stark is the bees knees. The book link is an affiliate link. You can see my affiliate link policy here.

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Martha Stewart on a Martha Stewart Pedestal

Peach shortcake with succulents for a super easy party dessert and decorations. // cupcakesandcutlery.comThere is a time in every blogger’s life when they are reminded of their mediocracy. Sure, you get mentioned on big sites and hit a big traffic day with a viral post once in a while. You love what you do, you think you are putting out good content and you start to think of yourself as being pretty skilled, domestically speaking. And then you work with Martha Stewart. And you realize that while you know your way around a kitchen, you will never be Martha caliber. Case in point. I got an email from her company asking me to participate in a fun end of summer program.  I think, “duh – of course I’ll participate.” They asked me to make one of her delicious summer recipes that would feature their new cake stands (available at Macy’s) perfectly. I think, “Yes! No biggie.  I can do this.” So I click-through the recipe slide show to choose my recipe…each one a little more difficult or with more steps than the one before…I feel my confidence waiver. Man that Strawberry Cream Cake recipe looks good. But wait, is she making a legit cake for it? No store-bought? So I move on. And I land on the Plum Blackberry Galette

Putting together a kind of homemade ginger peach shortcake. // cupcakesandcutlery.comI’ve always wanted to make a galette, primarily because I feel like if I am going to attempt to make crust, this one is super rustic and would hide my errors. So I think, “Yes! The galette!” but as the days go on and I get closer to actually having to make it, I start to tremble slightly. Yeah, that crust still sounds pretty advanced for me. My neighbor, a baker who I had asked to spot me in my crust making, ended up with sick children and I knew that I would be completely on my own. So I decided that I would combine two of Martha’s desserts to fit my strengths. And I ended up making a Ginger Peach Shortcake, because the plums at my store looked grody and my kids won’t touch blackberries with a ten foot pole. But even that didn’t go exactly as planned. While all I did to the peaches to prepare them for the cake was add some sugar and fresh grated ginger, a tiny piece of ginger ended up landing in my eye. Martha doesn’t get ginger in her eye. Through this process I was constantly reminded of Martha’s supreme greatness. She really can do it all, and make it look easy as pie, or galette as it were. 

Super easy and delicious dessert idea. Ginger Peach Shortcake. // cupcakesandcutlery.comI stand behind my Ginger Peach Shortcake. I’m proud of it. It tasted amazing, looked pretty and is true to who I am as a blogger and person. So while I wanted to put her Plum Blackberry Galette on a pedestal, I think I’ll keep Martha up there too. It is good to aspire to be like someone else, but I think it is also important to know your own strengths and weaknesses. But it doesn’t hurt to have that little question in the back of your mind as you move through life, “What would Martha do?”

Succulents pair really nicely with bright, poppy colors. // cupcakesandcutlery.comI know many of you out there are on the same level I am in terms of cooking/baking skills. Let’s keep it simple and delicious. And then let’s make it pretty to look at.

Pale pink and gold planter with succulents. // cupcakesandcutlery.comI was very lucky that I was able to shoot this at Lauren’s house where she had plenty of cute potted succulents all ready to go. 

Gold flatware and air plants. // cupcakesandcutlery.comAnd gold flat ware for me to use. But I’m totally going add that to my wish list because, SO pretty! 

Domed Cake stands are the best! // cupcakesandcutlery.comMartha really does make the best cake stands and this domed one is lovely. I love that the white really stood out against the colorful scarves and fabric that I used. I fell in love with that peach/pink/red scarf the minute I saw it and, even better, it was on clearance! 

Easy party dessert idea. // cupcakesandcutlery.comThis easy Ginger Peach Shortcake would be the perfect last-minute dessert for a get together. I didn’t make a recipe for it, literally just sliced the peaches, tossed in about 2 TBSP of sugar and grated about a 1/2 inch piece of fresh ginger in to the container. Then I put the lid on and gave it a good shake. I let it sit overnight to develop the juices and it was ready to go.

preparing-peach-shortcake-recipeI did make my own whipped cream though. I mean, I’m not a Neanderthal. I took a store-bought angel food cake and sliced in half. Then I layered on the whipped cream, and some peaches laid out in a super cute pattern. I added the second layer and then added more whipped cream and peaches. Done. Super easy.

Bright pinks, blues and gold make a gorgeous party table. // cupcakesandcutlery.comI’m still going to give that galette a shot one day. A girl has to have goals. So thank you, Martha, for challenging and inspiring us. And for the prettiest cake stands in all the land.

*I was sent a Martha Stewart cake stand. All opinions, stinging eye and sore arm from using a whisk to make the whipped cream, are my own.

Summer Picnics are #NaturallyAmazing

*This post is sponsored by French’s, a #NaturallyAmazing product.  All opinions are mine.

A clean eating dinner picnic.  #sponsored #NaturallyAmazing @frenchsfoods //  www.cupcakesandcutlery.comMy kids ask for a dinner picnic almost every single night during summer.  And fall.  And spring.  So we try to have them as much as possible.  There is something absolutely magical about sitting outside as the sun turns golden.  Eating outside brings an entirely different energy to dinner time.  It is much more casual and playful.  And the food is always kept simple and fresh.  This picnic set up shared through out this post, however, is a dream scenario.  In our real dinner picnics, the blanket gets all wrinkled, plates get kicked over and there is grass.  Lots of grass.  Everywhere.  This is what summer picnics would look like if my kids were robots that I could control with a remote control.

Lavender lemonade is the perfect drink to bring to a picnic or potluck.  #sponsored #NaturallyAmazing @frenchsfoods  //  www.cupcakesandcutlery.comMy robot children would willingly try all the wonderful and delicious foods that I love.  They would not be afraid of things that sound a little bit different.  They wouldn’t turn their noses up at lavender lemonade.  They would drink it and be instantly transformed in to a wonderfully relaxed state of mind.  They would never ask for soda even though they know they only drink it very rarely.

Fresh veggies and a tangy mustard based dip are a great dish to bring to a picnic.  #sponsored #NaturallyAmazing @frenchsfoods  // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comI am very lucky that my kids do, in fact, like vegetables.  They don’t hesitate to grab them off a buffet table and never complain when I send them in their lunches.  Up until a little while ago, my oldest son couldn’t eat anything with milk in it so he never really had anything to dip them in.  We are very fortunate that he seems to have outgrown that allergy.  For this picnic I made a delicious mustard dip.  French’s mustard is, and always has been a natural food.  What I love about it is that is adds SO much flavor.  And it is an absolute essential for summer grilling.  It is perfect with hamburgers and hotdogs but also delicious grilled veggie sandwiches.  It also sort of inspired the color palette as well.  You normally don’t think of mustard yellow as a summer color but I think these rich colors are perfect for the time just before sunset.  French’s wants you to get inspired also.  They have a new Pinterest page and it features other great ideas for #naturallyamazing entertaining and recipes for any occasion: graduation celebrations, picnics, summer BBQs, light lunches and more!  You can follow them by clicking the image below!

French's is now on Pinterest!

Cabbage salad for a delicious and easy dinner picnic.  #sponsored #NaturallyAmazing @frenchsfoods  // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comMy real family has recently started eating more salads.  I’ve always loved salads so this has made me so happy.  However, only my robot children would eat this cabbage salad.  While the cabbage is really mild in flavor, the herbs would totally throw my kids off.  I loved the bright flavors of the mint, basil and cilantro.  And the lime sesame dressing had a touch of sweetness that paired with it really nicely.  Robot children are the best, aren’t they?

A vintage blanket works perfectly for a summer picnic.  #naturallyamazing @frenchsfoods #sponsored // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comAnd only my robot children would be able to eat on this vintage blanket with a mustard dip…

Wooden cutlery for a summer dinner outdoors. #sponsored #naturallyamazing @frenchfoods // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comI decided to keep the elements of this picnic really natural.  I mixed wooden utensils with wooden plates and platters and recyclable paper containers for easy clean up.  But since this was for pretend children who don’t break things, I used my fave blue glasses for a pop of color.  In a real scenario I would probably use some clear plastic cups, nothing colored as I wouldn’t want to compete with this gorgeous blanket.

Succulents transport well and are really great for decorating picnics.  Also, wine.  You should always serve wine.  #sponsored #naturallyamazing @frenchsfoods  // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comSucculents are a great thing to bring as decorations when entertaining out of the house.  They are a really hearty plant and look great.  I also like to use bright-colored fruits because they double as part of the meal and decoration.  My robot and real children love cherries.

Mustard is all natural and a great way to add flavor to summer picnic dishes!  #sponsored #naturallyamazing @frenchsfoods  // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comEating healthier, more clean, doesn’t have to be boring.  I look for ways to add in flavor to keep me the meals from tasting the same.  I use a lot of fresh ground black pepper, fresh citrus juices and French’s mustard to add a wonderful savory tang.

vintage-blanket-and-grass-picnicThis has been a tale of my robot children and this fantastical picnic we all enjoyed together.  All the tips still hold true, just maybe not as a family picnic.  Maybe your picnic won’t be as fancy as this one but French’s and I encourage you to bring some fresh tastes to your table this summer!  Don’t forget to follow French’s for time-saving hacks and useful cooking tips as well as memorable meal ideas!

French's Mustard is #NaturallyAmazing #sponsored

 

Thank you for supporting the companies, like French’s, that sponsor my posts and allow me to create.  My robot children appreciate it also.

DIY Painted Cutting Boards

fruit face on neon cutting board  //  www.cupcakesandcutlery.comOh hey there.  I’m going to come right out and say that I don’t love things that aren’t entirely useful.  And this one is not 100 % useful in my opinion.  But like Kristen on RHONY, it sure is pretty (if you don’t get that reference, you don’t watch enough television).  So anywho, these are DIY painted cutting boards.  But the paint is not food safe.  So you would have to sort of hand wash this.  So I would really only serve things on it that aren’t super greasy etc.  So see, it’s kind of dumb.  But I just couldn’t take the plain wood.  Something had to be done.

Take plain cutting boards and make them cooler with a little paint. // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comI picked up a two pack of these cutting boards from HomeGoods and LOVED that they were two different sizes.  But they were so gosh darn plain.  It’s like the little black dress that needs some accessories.  As is, these serving platters would have bored my guests to death.  And I would feel really bad about that.  

Tape of geometric sections and paint to create a custom serving piece with a standard cutting board. //  www.cupcakesandcutlery.comSo I taped off a bunch of random geometric patterns and painted a bunch of different colors.  I love color. 

DIY neon painted cutting boards for entertaining.  //  www.cupcakesandcutlery.comSo much better, right?!  I’m thinking that I could use some sort of sealer over the painted area to make it more hand-wash friendly.  Not sure if Mod Podge or anyone else for that matter makes something that is food safe but as long as I aim to place food on the center section I am certain I will not poison any guests.  DISCLAIMER:  If you make this you assume all risk for your guests, family and anyone else you feed off this hand-painted board.  Poisoning people is not cool so use caution when painting anything that will be used in conjunction with food.  

Painted geometric cutting boards // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comDang, look how cool that fruit looks now that it is served on these hand painted cutting boards.  I mean, I totally want to hang out with that fruit don’t you?  Need to see how these fit in to an entertaining set up?  See them here.

 

16 Delicious Recipes for Outdoor Entertaining

*This post is sponsored by Foodie and Mode.  All opinions are mine.  And in my opinion, these recipes look freaking awesome and I can’t wait to make them.

Check out Outdoor Entertaining

by Sharon Garofalow (Cupcakes and Cutlery) at Foodie.com


Ahhhh, Memorial Day.  Does that signal the start of summer for you too?  I mean, we still have about a month left of school (I know, it is SO late!) but that doesn’t stop us for hosting barbecues and kicking off the summer grilling season.  But eating outside sometimes means we either make a signature dish over and over (because we nail it every time) or that we are scared to try something out of the ordinary because eating outside provides a host of challenges (breakable plates, temperature control, grody bugs).  These 16 recipes for outdoor entertaining are just what you need for all your upcoming parties.  I’ve included some drinks, entrees and side dishes for creating a delicious meal for your guests or even just your family.  I’ve included some familiar dishes, like a bbq burger that looks crazy good (and has a little whiskey in it…) but I’ve also included some not so traditional grilled items like Grilled Chipotle Lime Sweet Potato Fries.  How good do those sound?!  Make what you are comfortable with but don’t be afraid to make mistakes.  I speak from experience when I say that even if you make a mistake in front of people that you don’t know very well, it is not the end of the world.  It happens.  More than I care to admit.  I remember this one time in particular when I realized I had used tablespoons instead of teaspoons a little too late.  Oops!  But it wasn’t the end of the world.  And they’ve even come back since.  I am excited to get creative this summer with my recipe repertoire.  And I’m going to start with these Basil Beerades.