The King of the Dinner Party
Michael Aram’s likely going to carve out a place, in some form, at most of our holiday dinner tables. Here, he discusses setting his own, along with offering a glimpse of his next collections.
By David J. Witchell
For years, I’ve posted pics of my dinner parties, specifically the table settings, on social media, and I’m always overwhelmed by how much feedback they draw. Usually, it’s the Michael Aram pieces that pique the most interest.
Amid our deepening attraction to artisanal creativity and craftsmanship, Michael Aram’s home goods collections have become a phenomenon. As often as I use them and as prominently as I display them around my home, I didn’t realize how many of his pieces I’ve come to own until I took stock for this column.
It’s the interplay of materials and textures, like black nickelplate against hammered stainless steel, that keeps his designs contemporary and eternally relevant. I’ve used the same pieces for both the most elegant evenings and casual get-togethers.
This fall, I caught up with Aram, who was at home in Dehli, to ask him what inspires him after all these years and, more importantly, how he goes about setting his own table for the holidays.
Are your holiday dinners big, traditional affairs?
MA Our family always comes together for holiday meals, and they tend to reflect the lifestyle, tastes and personality of the host. We’re excited to host Thanksgiving this year in our new home. It will be a mix of old traditions and new ones.
How much planning goes into your table settings?
It’s relatively easy for me to be relatively unplanned about a table setting since I have a good resource at my disposal. I do, of course, think about it, though. And I enjoy it, especially coming up with the floral arrangements and the fun, unexpected elements.
Have you given any thought yet as to what you’d like to do this year?
We’re moving into the house just before the holidays. I don’t even have a dining table yet. I’m still considering making one. But, once that’s done, the rest will be easy. I think I’m going to use a mix of our new Gotham dinnerware and cutlery and Rock stemware.
Are there any pieces that carry over from year to year, or do you start entirely fresh?
Pieces always carryover. I also like to somehow incorporate family heirlooms. They’re things that are on hand, but they need to look like they belong.
If I forced you to name a single favorite piece from your entire portfolio, what would say?
To say I have a favorite would be dishonest. I do feel connected, nostalgically, to certain pieces that marked either a time in my life or a progression in my creative development. I’m also sentimental about some of my older pieces, like the shoehorn, the twig cutlery and the mouse and cheese knife. But, otherwise, I prefer to keep my attention on my new work.
When you start a new collection, how do you focus your inspiration?
Inspiration has to have an authentic connection to something in my life. I make sketches and post things that inspire me on a wall, which becomes a series of mood boards that are then translated into a prototype that I lovingly call the “Granddaddy DNA Piece,” from which the rest of the collection is born.
How do you go about replenishing your creativity?
It sounds trite, but I do like to be open to inspiration in everything I do—playing with my kids and picking up leaves and broken shells from the beach. Work itself is inspirational, so I feel excited and refreshed every day.
Any chance you could offer a little insight into your next collection?
For next spring, I have two that I’m very excited about. One is a very abstract, almost brutalist, collection called After the Storm, which is inspired, strangely, by strong winds and heavy rains and the destruction and strange calm that follows them. The other is the opposite. It’s called Enchanted Garden, and it celebrates the first flush of spring, with delicate buds and tendrils exquisitely set with semiprecious stones. I jokingly refer to the two as “April Showers Bring May Flowers.” For me, they both capture a sense of new beginnings.
Where do you see Michael Aram, the man and the brand, in the next, say, five years?
Spending a lot of time in my studio and with my family. I want to be a role model for my kids as someone who gives back to his community, is creative, works hard and follows his passion. I feel like my work is taking on an exciting direction. I’m working on a larger scale with some furniture and sculptural work and at the same time working small and precious with fine jewelry.
David J. Witchell is the co-owner of David J. Witchell at 25 South (davidjwitchell.com) and The Boutiques at 25 South, both in Newtown.
Photo credit: David J. Witchell