Thursday, July 23, 2009

Nan Kempner's TV Dinner

It seems a modern scene and setting, the TV Dinner as re-imagined by Mrs. Thomas Kempner (nee Nan Kempner) for Tiffany & Co. in 1980.

"Here New York style-setter Nan Kempner gives a Sony KP-5000 projection TV a place of high prominence in this setting for a quiet dinner while awaiting guests invited for a glass of champagne.

Although the assertive TV demands and gets attention, Mrs. Kempner retakes possession of the space with overscsaled objects and furniture.

"Her TV tray set with a "Flora Danica" plate, "Shell and Thread" silver, and "Ambassador" wineglass sit on the firestool of a commodious "Wicker-Wicker-Wicker" chaise by Michael Taylor, who also designed the skirted wicker table which Mrs. Kempner covers with an Yves Saint Laurent scarf and sets with Tiffany objects including a "Lily Pad" tray, "Honeycomb" and "Mock Orange" boxes, and a "Basket" dish.

A nineteenth-century Japanese vase holds plum blossoms beside a bronze Buddha.

"Drawings by William Bailey, Henri Matisse, and Larry Rivers back the setting, and a gold-leaf Art Deco screen backs the TV."

- The New Tiffany Tablesettings, John Loring & Henry Platt, 1981

Portrait, Nan Kemper, de Young Museum, Nan Kempner: American Chic

Nan Kempner dancing with Matthew Modine, ABT Spring Gala, 2003. At the time of this photo, Mrs. Kempner was 72 years old.

Nan Kempner, extraordinary hostess, philanthropist, and fashionable luminary, died in 2005 at the age of 74. Her life and legendary style was subsequently chronicled by the de Young Museum of San Francisco in 2005. Read about her here.

For more Thursday "Tablescapes" visit Between Naps on the Porch.

And a reminder: Enter the Taste, Acquiring What Money Can't Buy reader giveaway here, and the ChillinJoy Portable Insulated Wine Cooler giveaway here.


The Countess of Nassau County said...

Ironic that the most dated thing about the room are the cigarettes on the TV tray. Well done Nan.

Lauren said...

WOW she's really beautiful. Have been meaning to visit you for a while & am loving the blog!!!

The Quintessential Magpie said...

Ms. Kempner had the right idea about how to dine alone. It doesn't get any lovelier than Flora Danica, and her linens are exquisite. That's an interesting choice of silver with that particular china pattern. And of course anything that comes in a special blue box is wonderful!

Love her necklace in that portrait.

Cathy said...

Wonderful post!!! Your blog is so pretty and unique!!!


Anonymous said...

Nice nice party! I really am loving the theme.

Thanks for sharing!

Suon said...

I have admired Nan Kempner's panache since discovering RSVP in 2000 but I especially enjoy her sense of humor.

Love your blog and have wanted to comment many times.

~Tessa~Scoffs said...

Tiffany Tablesettings book was one I would study during long hours at the consignment shop (see my recent post). I loved the one by Andy Warhol in the jail cell! But this one is better, of course.

Dining Delight said...

Interesting and inspiring post!


Cass @ That Old House said...

Elegant -- just elegant.


Alexandra said...

Lovely Post. It is nice to see elegance even in front of the TV. I love the clear acrylic tray - it adds a nice modern clean note to the setting and is practical in that you can use it with many different patterns.
Flora Danica is actually a Royal Copenhagen pattern - and is still in production. You didn't note this in your post so I thought I would mention it. IThe pattern (and several other Royal Copenhagen patterns) was included in the Tiffany's book as they were the major if not only importer of Royal Copehagen for years (at least thru the late 60s when my mother bought her china).

Blushing hostess said...

Alexandra - the text is quotes is exactly as it appeared in Henry Platt's text. Flora Danica was not credited to Royal Copenhagen and in deference to Platt and Loring, I chose not to embroider on their description.

However, those wishing more information on Flora Danica can peruse this site:

or refer to the Encyclopedia of Decorative Arts.

Be well,

little augury said...

NK was terrific. The tv tray is so elegant- my grandMa did something similar most nights of her life, kept the breakfast table set with her favorite napkins, and I got to open up the cupboards with all and "practice" on her Dining table. Beautiful post