Design Lesson for Entertaining At Home

cecconi simone design interns

As I was watching the finale of Design Interns on HGTV Canada, I felt the need to review some basic design principles with you. Design is a balancing act between form and function. Whether you are designing a home or planning an event, the same basic rules apply.

If you missed the second season of Design Interns, reruns will start February 12, 2008. I encourage you to listen to it because Cecconi Simone is a solid design firm from Toronto.

The winner becomes an intern at Cecconi Simone, so their design philosophy is highlighted through the challenges. What I like about the show is that it emphasis the need for functionality, using lasting materials and going through a thorough thinking process.

So my three design principles are:

Think macro

You must figure out the big pictures before you even think about the details. When you entertain, that means answering questions like:

  • What time of event you wish to host? Cocktail, dinner, brunch, dance party
  • What atmosphere? Intimate, glamorous, casual, formal
  • Where do you want to host a party?
  • What how many people do you want to attend?
  • Do you cook, hire a chef who cooks on premises or book a caterer?

Think functionality

Functionality means comfort for you and your guests. Never underestimate the functional aspect because it goes back to our basic needs: eat, drink, personal space, temperature / weather, restrooms. Some of the issues are:

  • Assigning the zones: greeting, mingling, eating, activity area, lounging
  • How do you wish to serve the food? Sit-down dinner, standing up and mingling
  • How much space do you need to serve the food?
  • How much food and drink you need?
  • What activities are you planning for? Mingling, dancing, playing games

Think form

When you know exactly what the constraints and the needs of your party are, you can think about the form (look). Start with a general concept (think macro) and then, select or create decorative elements that support your concept. All your decisions should be taken because they fit the overall concept.

  • The concept is what the general public referred as the theme of the party. It can be a pirate theme if you want a costumed party or you can host a dinner party around bubbles for a baby shower or a milestone lifetime event.
  • Personally, I think you achieve a sophisticated look by being subtle about your theme. The public space on my home incorporates many references to the medieval era in a mix of old and new decor. At our housewarming party, my husband and I wear medieval clothing we already own. We did not want to have a medieval party per se. Sometimes it does not take a lot: I still have people commenting about how we dressed for the occasion a decade after our housewarming party.
  • Do not forget the food and drinks. The shape, color, plating and type of food and drink can amplify your party theme.

I am leaving you on well-designed spaces done by Cecconi Simone. I admire their works. These stunning kitchens are designed with entertaining in mind yet they work well on a daily basis.

Learn more: Design Interns on HGTV.ca
Learn more: Cecconi Simone

  • christina
    March 23, 2008 at 16:13

    I just viewed the season finale today and I was wondering if you know the name of the tile store that the interns visited for their backspashes? I’m looking to add a backsplash to my new kitchen in a few weeks and I’d love to visit that store – the selection looked great! Thanks in advance.

  • Warren
    February 8, 2009 at 15:01

    Hi, in response to your question to who was he supplier of the tiles in the final episode: Ciot at: http://www.ciot.com/flash/
    Thanks, Warren – Winner of Design Interns-2nd season…and thank you for watching and supporting the show.