Amidst the russet, wind-rippled desert dunes at Al Maha Resort in Dubai, an elaborate table setting was the centrepiece of a decadent dinner party. Linen napkins, featuring a red hand-block printed floral motif, neatly rested atop colour-flecked plates in Ikat design, sat like jewels on a table lined with vibrant blooms. This painterly setting recently brought together the Arabian Gazelles, members of the region’s first female supercar owners’ club, to celebrate luxury online retailer Moda Operandi and biannual international design magazine Cabana’s third collection of tableware and apparel to dress both the home and the hostess.
“For the first time for this collection, we thought this is how we want a table to look but how does the perfect cabana hostess dress when she entertains at home?” says Martina Mondadori Sartogo, the editor-in-chief of Cabana, who has curated the designs. Exuding Arabian glamour on her first visit to Dubai in a blue silk caftan that’s part of the collection, she goes on to say, “We’re entering summer and I imagine women having al fresco dinners like this outside, be it here or in the Hamptons or Italy or maybe even having a picnic... It’s about playing with historical patterns and adopting them with contemporary colours.” After two sell-out collections, Moda Operandi’s co-founder Lauren Santo Domingo approached Martina to create a collection that perfectly marries art, design and fashion. The result is a delightful range of hand-blown glassware made in Murano, including mugs, tea sets, plates and marbleised vases, printed tablecloths and wicker placemats.
Most extraordinary are the tablecloths available in two unique patterns and varied colourways. “I always start with the linens because I think they’re like the floor of a house, you know? And then you build up from there,” she explains. Hand-block printed in Italy, the Mirandola tablecloth draws on Valentino’s Spring/Summer 2017 collection, with recurrent floral motifs in soft pink and red hues. And then, there’s the Samarkand Square tablecloth inspired by Suzani, a decorative embroidered textile made in Central Asia and the Middle East. “I’ve always loved Suzani but we slightly tweaked the colours to make it more summer-appropriate.”
On the fashion front, there are laid-back silk caftans and belts in a kaleidoscope of colour, inspired by Yves Saint Laurent’s travels to Marrakech in the 1970s, designed by Cabana’s editor-at-large Stephan Janson. Gold-plated pendants created by artisans from Afghanistan and richly patterned mules and slippers designed by Cabana in collaboration with Fortuny Fabrics for Italian footwear label Le Monde Beryl round off the collection. What’s easy to spot are references to Martina’s vibrant Italian upbringing. “I think it’s really a matter of reflecting a culture that has been in your DNA and responding to that because that’s what I find with Italy,” she says. “Since I moved out of the country and relocated to London, I respond to everything related to the Italian Renaissance in a very positive way.” The designs also take a cue from her travels and a mix of the Silk Route, North Africa and some parts of America.
With its eclectic patterns and great emphasis on layering, Martina’s tableware collection has surely been designed for the Instagram age. “We live in an era where Instagram is so important and great tables work so well on it. That’s one of the things that have helped Cabana become a brand.” But that doesn’t rob the collection of its sense of life and organic coherence.
Martina’s evidently maximalist design brings colours and character back to the living spaces. And with the warm and festive majlis in many Middle Eastern houses, the new range will surely feel at home in the region. “In Moda Operandi’s perspective, this collection has great appeal for women in this region because of its Middle Eastern references and the colours,” notes Martina, who has plans of taking this collaboration further by exploring accessories for bed linens and bathrooms in fall. Moda Operandi and Cabana’s combined aesthetic vocabulary brings to the table a selection you can feast your eyes on.
Prices range between Dhs600-6,520. Modaoperandi.com