POM Wonderful Dinner Party – Part Four: Designing Eden… And Parts East
Dorothy knew what she was talking about — although she could have just as easily said, “halves of the same pomegranate.” Whether it’s a kid’s birthday, New Year’s bash, or – in our case – a POM Wonderful Dinner Party, décor is the icing on the cake.
Yes, stalwart cocktail lovers, today we show the “softer” side of 12 Bottle Bar. Why talk decorating? The answer is two-fold. First, the décor element – how we incorporate pomegranates into our home and decorating scheme – is one third of our POM Party grade, so we wanted to give the seductive fruit a chance to shine outside of the kitchen. Second, as much as you might like to just throw back a drink, sipping your favorite tipple in the right setting (and the right glass, for that matter) only adds to the experience. Just think of the appeal of a rustic library nook, a crackling fire, an overstuffed leather armchair, and a glass of… you get the idea.
Rather than the word “décor” then, let’s use the word “atmosphere”. For our POM Party, we wanted to create an atmosphere that reflected the themes of our food – discovery, seduction, fun – as well as a nod to the pomegranate’s historical evolution, as it were. Regardless of the room, there was a sort of naturalism that came through; we wanted to feature the pomegranates as part of the landscape, to reflect their organic nature, and to let their singular beauty shine.
A bit about our color scheme. The inspiration hit us the moment we opened the canvas bags POM sent us as gifts for our guests. Inside each was a rubber bracelet sporting the “Wonderful Inside” slogan, but more important were the two colors – chartreuse green and POM “red”. These were our jumping off point with lots of foliage in vibrant, lime green shades (Cattails dyed green, Bells of Ireland, Horsetail, Variegated Ivy) with accents of chartreuse Reindeer Moss and red/green stripe Canna leaves. We also used a lot of Aralia leaves – their multi-leaf design reminded us of fig leaves and tied into the Garden of Eden theme, which we discuss below. When it came to “red”, the pomegranates were our key color accent with various other flowers/plants – Roses, Snapdragons, Coffee Bean and Pepper berries – providing shades of red contrast. Finally, blue Hydrangea echoed the pom-pom shape of the pomegranates. We were off and running, florally speaking.
As a major structural theme of the evening was the history of the pomegranate “from Eden to this Evening”, we knew that the moment our guests walked through the front door, we wanted them to begin their journey at square one – namely, standing before the “Tree of Knowledge” itself, replete with the sexy little bauble that caught Eve’s eye.
Poor girl, Eve. She didn’t stand a chance. Nearby, on a side table, was the “aftermath” of that fateful fruit fable – an open pomegranate exposing the ruby-red arils inside. Let’s face it, that’s one sexy fruit.
As the gang made their way into the family room where they would mingle before dinner, it was time to have some fun. The rest of our house is a bit more formal, but the family room is very modern. Lucky for us, our couch just happens to be a “wonderful” shade of red, which provided a perfect color background. On the coffee table, we placed our Jeff Koontz “Puppy” vase, pomegranates rising above his white ears, surrounded by flowers.
On the mantle were towering candlesticks supporting individual pomegranates, a floral/pomegranate centerpiece, and glass pots with pomegranates front and center, all surrounded by lots of green and pink (and a few songbirds for good measure.) Adding a major color pop, Japanese lanterns in red and pink echoed huge “Pop Art” pomegranates (or, so we hope).
We move on to the kitchen, the heart of the home and the home of our “POM Wonderful 101” demonstration. This was the scene for “How to Cut a Pomegranate”, so we kept the decoration fun and abundant. Cut pomegranates lined a tall vase that was filled with skewered pomegranates and assorted flowers. In front, as you can see, we let everyone know how we felt about the evening – wonderful, that is.
We personalized the table a bit with individual mini-cutting boards. We couldn’t believe how lucky we were to find them in packs of red, green, pink, and white! After shots of pomegranate juice freshly squeezed from our demonstration fruit, we moved into the dining room for the main part of the evening.
Our dining room is pretty old-school – red walls, crown molding, a dark wood table. Since our own décor echoes a sort of Colonial/Victorian past, we focused on that feeling.
When we unexpectedly found some inexpensive bird cages, they inspired us to create Victorian-style tableaus with pomegranates, butterflies and reindeer moss. Sort of an “Olde Curiosity Shoppe” feeling, which allowed the pomegranates to be “studied” and admired up close.
In the center of the table was our evening’s mascot – a red Betta fish, with red “aril” pebbles in his bowl. “Grenadine”, as we dubbed the newest member of our family, helped complete the naturalistic theme and added a bit of whimsy to the otherwise formal room.
On the walls, we brought in a few more bits of history, replacing some of our framed restaurant menus with images of famous pomegranate paintings, including Botticelli’s “Madonna of the Pomegranate” (yes, that really is the title) and the gorgeous, but more obscure “Still Life with Lemons, Oranges, and a Pomegranate” (see below) by Jacob van Hulsdonck (yes, that really is his name). On the sideboard was a trio of pomegranates peeking out between Roses and Hydrangeas.
We also incorporated a small version of the POM pomegranate icon into the typography for our menu – as part of each of the course names – with all text being in pomegranate red, of course. The menus – with the guest’s name written in cursive – served as individual place cards, as well as a reference for the evening’s gustatory festivities.
Finally, to bring everything full circle, we tried to capture the mood with music, as decoration can just as easily be aural as visual. We had hoped to assemble a custom playlist of songs with the word “Wonderful” in the title, but as we got down to the wire, we created a Pandora station based around Julie London’s version of “S’Wonderful” and Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World”.
From Eden to Pop Art. From Botticelli to Victoriana. The evening ebbed and flowed as all good parties do. In the end, it was a night of pure sensorial overload – one which we’d do again in a flash. The competition gave us a long-overdue excuse to gather close friends together and to celebrate.
And so, as our parting shot, we’ll leave you with the obligatory “arils in a vase” – or test tubes, in this case. Our Carnival of Flowers is complete. Let the cocktails flow again…