Humour and quirkiness create atmosphere
A Christmas table doesn't have to be 'perfectly fashionable' when As Øland sets it. She likes things to be personal and not too neat and proper, and her guests shouldn't be afraid of spilling something on the tablecloth.
Heirlooms, vintage finds, paper art and special designs are all combined when creative director at Dansk Mode & Textil, As Øland, sets her Christmas table with a white linen tablecloth and linen napkins from Georg Jensen Damask.
Personality is an important factor in the table setting, which should never be too perfect, she explains. "I love mixing things that have different styles. I don't like it when everything is new and expensive and pretty," she says.
The long table in her living room is set with white Royal Copenhagen plates, which, according to As Øland, 'create a bit of ceremony'. There are also vintage wine glasses in different colours, Griegst porcelain that has been handed down, and whimsical Christmas decorations that have been collected over time.
Place cards and candles
Certain elements must be on the table every year – or it's just not Christmas. This includes a brass candlestick that As Øland's grandmother commissioned from a blacksmith many years ago, with two identical ones gracing the tables of other family members. The pretty place cards created by artist Sarah Becker are also part of the decor year after year.
As Øland's philosophy is that things should be usable, and if they develop a patina, that's fine.
"When you're a guest in my home, you're allowed to spill red wine or sauce on the tablecloth. I'd rather have stains on the tablecloth than people being afraid of spilling or breaking something. My home needs to be lived in and I think mistakes can be beautiful," she says.
One cupboard holds a whole collection of Georg Jensen Damask tablecloths, which she has received or bought over the years. This year the table will be set with a white linen tablecloth and napkins.
"We have a thing about tablecloths in my family. Beautiful tablecloths really add something to a table. In summer I like to use coloured tablecloths, but I think the tablecloth should be white at Christmas to keep the look light. The white background and candles mixed with more Christmassy elements create a lovely overall look. I think there's something so beautiful about the embroidered logo on the linen tablecloth," she says.
A beautifully set table ready for Christmas dinner really means a lot to As Øland.
"When the table is set and ready, I get this kind of ceremonial feeling. It signifies that we're ready to sit down and enjoy a special dinner together that we've been looking forward to. In my family, it's tradition to sing the first verse of the Danish hymn 'Det Kimer Nu Til Julefest' (the happy Christmas comes once more) before sitting down at the table," she explains.
A Christmas tree with personality
In the living room next to the dining table, a small, plump tree sits on the round Christmas tree rug, PLAIN. As Øland doesn't have a foot for her Christmas tree, instead securing it in colourful netting.
"It adds a bit of edge and flair to all the traditional things that Christmas has to offer," she says.
The decorations on the tree are colourful; a nice mix of fun Christmas baubles, paper cut-outs and her children's own creations.
"I haven't had a Christmas tree for very long, so I don't have many decorations yet. It's important to me that there's room for the children's Christmas decorations, and I like to mix many different things on the tree. The most important thing is that there should be candles – that's vital" she explains.
As Øland's best tip for creating a personal Christmas style is creating contrasts.
"Mix new and old. Don't think that things should go together – think of things that shouldn't go together. Ask the kids to make pretty place cards, or do some lovely paper cut-outs yourself. Bring some history into it – from your childhood home, for example. An element of humour is always important too. Don't be afraid of imperfection and mistakes. Remember that things have to be used," she says.
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