Back in February, I boarded a flight to Southern Africa, with no idea of what to expect out of this beautiful adventure. After two weeks in Zambia and South Africa, however, I can firmly say that when people say there’s something about this place that gets in your blood, it’s absolutely true. And I still have so much more of the continent left to explore!

This month, I’m finally bringing you some of my favorite travel moments from this trip with an extensive travel journal, as well as features on some beautiful products and designers. But to kick things off, I thought I’d do something special. So I created a tabletop inspired by the beautiful lands and culture I experienced…

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While in South Africa, we traveled throughout Cape Town, up the coast, and into wine country. But the city is where I wish I had gotten to spend more time. It’s such an interesting melding of Dutch (and other Western European) style mixed with traditional African influences.  On top of all that, there’s also a strong beach culture, making this area one of the more interesting places I’ve visited in quite some time…

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As usual, when pulling my design together, I looked to the details to tell the story. I wanted a mix of traditional elements from both European and African design, I so incorporated beading, turned wood silverware, the official flower of South Africa (proteas) and a few little pieces collected from my travels.

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My favorite element might be the beaded bracelets. It took some hunting, but I finally found tumblers to accommodate these simple accents. The napkins were also bejeweled! Not only do they add a pretty visual, but guests are welcome to slip these beauties onto their wrists at night’s end.

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The African culture has such an array of beautiful textiles, I wanted so badly to try and incorporate them into the table, but – alas – couldn’t find any here that compared to the beauty of those I had seen in Zambia. And certainly not large enough to cover a table in!

Rather than force it, I opted for a tablecloth that at once fresh with its subtle but preppy stripe while also lending an ethnic influences with playful fringe and trim, and the hand painted dishes from Oscar de la Renta that I thought also melded traditional shape with hand-painted brush stroke patterns.

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Any of you who have traveled extensively know that upon your return, everyone wants to hear about the trip, which is another perfect reason to throw a dinner party like this one!

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What better way to share stories from your travels than over a dinner – hopefully with a menu inspired by the local cuisine! I was sure to set the table with some pieces collected along the way that also inspired conversation, like this beautiful malachite dish. (Did you know that most of the world’s malachite is mined in Zambia!?)

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A dinner party is so much more than that when you can share just a hint of the experience you enjoyed in your own travels with good friends… and perhaps tempt them to do a similar trip in the process! I can’t wait to share so much more of my travels with you in the coming weeks!

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shop :: tablecloth // chairs // dinner plate // salad plate // silverware // tumblers // napkins // candlesticks // beaded bracelets (as napkin rings) // beaded bracelets (as decor on the tumblers)

photography by nicole firestone // florals by finch & thistle // dress provided by LUBLU kira plastinina // art direction and styling by cassandra lavalle for coco+kelley

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