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Tête A Tête

The Tables of Alberto Pinto

Has anyone ever set a table with the same pomp and pageantry as the French interior designer Alberto Pinto?

His table settings were so magnificent that they warranted what is now a highly collectible and rare book entitled succinctly Alberto Pinto: Table Settings. (The book commands a north of $300 price tag on the resale market.)

What made his tables envy-inducing and worth replicating, if only in the look-for-less way for mere mortals like us? It was his way with layers and the magical and exotic realism he injected to his settings, be they grand and formal or intimate and cozy.

A flock of sterling silver birds on a dinner table may be a common sight today but it was an original Pinto gesture. Various animals and fauna like giraffes, foo dogs and snails peppered his tables too. A chinoiserie-style service is replete with blanc de chine figures — an oft-copied detail flourish in contemporary entertaining.

For Pinto it was about tables that revealed themselves in two fold. First, the glorious first impression of a fabulous display of dinnerware, glasses and flowers amidst a room that is just as layered and chic. Second, when one sits down and notices all the tiny details like the hand-painted leitmotif on the plates, the Lesage-embroidered napkins, and the bibelots like quartz obelisks, silver salt cellars and bronze animal candlesticks. All arranged in a way that is at once opulent and whimsical (moss and mushroom porcelain figurines as a focal point to place settings of plates with various mushrooms). A mix that we can only hope to pull off with the same panache.

Alberto Pinto had a penchant for the old world, Chinese themes and the animal kingdom, especially if they were dusted in gold. May we recommend the Indochine Charger with its gold lattice work; the Distressed Napkin which is akin to an antique Florentine paper; and the bee-inspired Fly Away Napkin Ring for your table settings that are in homage to the great master.

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All interior photos from the book Alberto Pinto: Table Settings and Christie’s

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