Delhi-based fashion stylist, brand consultant and content creator, Spardha Malik, has had quite the professional journey upon graduating from NIFT, Mumbai—one of the best fashion and design schools in India—in the late 2000s. From becoming one of the country’s very first fashion bloggers, which kickstarted the microblogging trend, and covering street style for leading fashion magazines to now embracing a quietly creative life as a brand consultant and fashion stylist, Malik has truly carved a niche for herself in the industry.
The ace stylist has always strived to create a safe space for her followers on Instagram by championing love, acceptance, inclusivity and body positivity in the most creative ways. Her Instagram page brims with personality, warmth and joy, through both her commercial and personal styling visuals, experiments with make-up, travel sojourns and snippets of her setting up gorgeous tablescapes and designing home interiors.
We all know that with the arrival of Diwali and the festive season, comes the pressure of attending multiple get-togethers and also hosting fabulous dinner parties for your friends and family. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! We spoke with the fashion and style maven with an aim to explore the magical world of tablescapes, and solicited some beginner-friendly tips and tricks to help you set up a cosy and beautiful table for Diwali.
Her easy and graceful decor hacks can help you beautify a drab dinner table in an instant with the use of strategic decor placement, fresh flowers, hand-printed textiles and design and living ideas to create an informal and inviting home. We must say, Malik’s social media page and her advice on table-setting serve lessons in understated elegance. She wants you to sprinkle a bit of colour, whimsy and movement to any space you want to host a Diwali party in, and we’re totally here for it..
HELLO!: How do you play the perfect host this festive season? We’d love to know how you deck up your table for a dinner party.
Spardha Malik: “Festivals are a good time to add a personal touch around the house and make it a little bit more special. I try to bring in a lot of flowers, candles, old silverware and glassware from the depths of my storage, and polish it before displaying it around my hosting spaces. I’m a very smell-driven person, so I try to bring in fresh flowers with a nice aroma that instantly infuses the air with freshness and festivity. I try to stay away from typical flowers. I do love my mogras, roses and marigolds, but I try to avoid placing that all over since it’s so overdone. I go towards eucalyptus, oriental lilies interspersed with Indian flowers because they fuse so well together. They also give off a unique aroma when you enter the home.”
H!: What would be your dream location for setting up a table?
SM: “I’m a big fan of the mountains—the air there is cleaner and crisper, you know? My dream location for creating a tablescape would be an idyllic meadow or a garden overlooking the mountain peaks or under the tall evergreen trees. I love forest-y vibes, and I’m really driven by green lush spaces where the aroma of cedar and pine trees wafts through the air. I’d love to set up a beautiful cottage-core themed lunch or a dinner by a bonfire in the mountains.”
H!: What are some hacks, tips and tricks you’d share with a beginner wanting to set up a tablescape for a dinner party?
SM: “If you’re not fully sure of what you want to do, keeping a colour scheme in mind is a good place to start. Don’t overload the space with all-things colourful and bright. Land on maybe two or three colours; like for instance, using a white tablecloth, blue plates and yellow flowers is enough colours to ensure you don’t have too many different elements and hues clashing together. Keep it simple and light. Fresh flowers and candles are the easiest things to add to a space to make your guests feel special. It’s also nice to add thoughtful little personalised details for each of your guests, e.g. leave a nametag for each plate, or adorn the napkins with a favourite flower of theirs to make it more personal.
One more important tip is to play with heights, don’t keep everything at the same eye level. Use cake stands, a large vase with large flowers and a small vase with small flowers to stagger the visuals at the table. Play with the levels and volumes since the canvas is so limited. The only way to add more depth to a table setup is by going vertical and mixing objects of different heights. This will surely create a sense of cosiness and vibrancy in the table space.”
H!: Which textiles, materials and decor items do you always gravitate towards?
SM: “I always play to the strengths of textiles. I’m more on the minimalistic side of doing things. I like elements that are layered and interesting and I’m not a fan of in-your-face, bold colours, especially because Indian food is so bright and colourful to begin with. I don’t like to add too many colours around it, because I still want the food to take centre stage in a tablescape. I do this by trying to tone down on the colour. I gravitate towards a lighter colour palette and I love authentic chikankari fabric because it’s very detailed, beautiful and subtle. For napkins, I would recommend using fabrics like kantha, ikat and maybe handwoven linen fabrics featuring nice textures and dainty details that demand you to lean in and take a closer look.
If at all I’m using a bolder element, say, a block-printed cloth, I’ll incorporate it in the small design details instead of dousing the entire table in distracting patterns and colours. I essentially choose where to add details, and not too much of it. I wouldn’t want to overwhelm a person/guest (or even myself!) with all the strong colours, textures and patterns.”
H!: What elements define your personal style and where do you find your inspirations?
SM: “My personal style is textile-driven; I like using fabrics that have some details and a story behind them. I prefer to incorporate Indian elements and put them in a modern context. If I have to describe my aesthetic in one word (or two!), it’s definitely ‘India minimal’. Without a doubt, I find my inspirations in nature and its organic colours. I go for restrained eclecticism— which is basically a weird concoction of different preferences/inspirations of mine.
I thoroughly enjoy the fusion of modern and traditional design elements, and I’m fascinated by architects and interior designers who bring the earthiness of India in a space and contemporise it with a good mix of various aesthetics.”
H!: Should we care about style/decor trends, and do you?
SM: “I personally don’t follow trends. After being in the fashion styling space for so many years, I’ve learned that I prefer style over trends. The same applies to decor for me. If you want your house to have a timeless appeal, you can’t run behind trends. If a certain trend does click with me, I prefer integrating it in small details. I’d get a small decor piece and see if it fits my vibe, rather than full-fledgedly going and buying everything at a store. Your space shouldn’t look like a showroom or a page out of a catalogue.
I’ve picked up different mementos and unique pieces during my travels in different parts of the world and put them all together in my home. Each hand-picked item has a story behind it that represents a particular time and phase in my life. It’s not an aesthetic anyone can just copy, you know? It’s your own. I like cosy, inviting, lived-in spaces, and TBH, too much perfection turns me off. A space should have character and if it’s too perfectly done, it just doesn’t feel like home to me, it doesn’t make me feel at ease. I love sinking into a couch and being at home in an informal setting.”
H!: Is there anyone who’s influential to you in terms of design and style?
SM: “I really like the British interior decorator, Louise Roe (@LouiseRoeHome). Her house has cosy, old cottage-y vibes. I enjoy looking at her page even though my house doesn’t really look like hers. But, I don’t know, I just love the way she mixes colours and textures, and the new with the old. Closer home, I really like Shivani Dogra’s style. She has a very earthy and eclectic aura, which is something that speaks to my soul. She uses vintage pieces from different time periods and fuses together diverse India-rooted design elements. I find inspiration from creatives who don’t really follow one particular style. I love a good mishmash of beautiful things and aesthetics.”
H!: If given a chance, which celebrity’s dinner table would you love to style?
SM: “I’d love to style someone whose personality matches mine, so I wouldn’t have to overthink while I’m doing this ‘assignment’ [laughs]. I really enjoy looking at Rhea Kapoor’s feed—the way she dresses, the way she does her space is mesmerising. Whether it’s fashion or decor, she always has an interesting take on things, and brings her very original aesthetic to different areas of her life. So, naturally, I’d love to create a table setup with her one day.”