Thanksgiving Table: Connor Lesniak of Conbon Industries

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Let’s be real—Thanksgiving, for all of its familial merrymaking, can be pretty darn stressful. Between trying not to scorch the turkey and making sure uncle Ralph doesn’t drink too much bourbon like last year, it can be easy to forget about the little things. Little things like setting the table, perhaps! In an effort to help you get on top of your Thanksgiving table-scaping game this year, we’re re-launching our Thanksgiving Table series. In the days leading up to Thanksgiving, we will treat you to a different Thankskgiving table, beautifully assembled by one of our favorite artists or designers. And—to stir things up a little bit, we had West Elm donate a set of plain white dinnerware to each designer to prove that you can make a beautiful table with basics—even using the dinnerware you already own. To kick off this year’s round of Thanksgiving Tables, we’re thrilled to present a stunning autumnal table styled by graphic designer and artist extraordinaire, Connor Lesniak (of Conbon Industries).

“Growing up in my family,” Connor writes, “Thanksgiving marked the end of Autumn. In the following week or two, we’d pile into a minivan and get a Christmas tree. So for me, and I guess by association for this table, the inspiration is a celebration of Autumn’s colors, flavors, and atmosphere.

“What I came up with is a giant, out of control burst-of-Fall-floral centerpiece and a little cranberry-curd-filled macaron on everyone’s plate. I know it isn’t your typical Thanksgiving pregame, but it’s both simple and special at the same time — my personal power-combo for memorable entertaining.”

Continue after the jump for all of the photos plus Connor’s table decorating tips! —Max

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Above image: The place setting. “Thanks to West Elm I have these beautiful plates,” Connor says, “so to compliment their natural simplicity I used one of West Elm Market’s mugs filled with warm apple cider. On the plate I put a cranberry macaron and this very luxe linen napkin. It’s on the verge of being plain, but I prefer the quality of the materials and the exotic macaron teaser to do the talking on this one. “

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“For silverware,” Connor writes, “I pulled out the medium-sized guns with my Halsted Flatware from Crate & Barrel. I love it’s classic looks. The detail doesn’t compete with the clean lines of the West Elm plates and they’re less casual than my everyday stuff, so I feel like our guests are using nicer-than-normal stock. Again, quality (they’re 18/10 stainless steel) and utility play out over decoration, for me.  

“And just for the fun of it (we’re celebrating, right?) I included a rustic bamboo spoon should anyone want to have a more substantial utensil to stir their cider or coffee, or to have left for dessert. The wood tones the materials down a bit to keep everyone feeling comfortable and casual. It’s also something different to talk about!”

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Above: “The candles are Ikea and the glass they’re in is CB2. The water glass is also CB2.”

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Above image: “Wine glasses are from CB2. Linen napkin is Libeco.

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“For the centerpiece,” Connor says, “my all-things-creative colleague Jeanette Morrow and I ventured into the world of wholesale flower markets. We picked out ranunculus, seeded eucalyptus, calla lily, rosy pink waxflower, bittersweet vine (those yellow and red berries), leucadendron Winter Sun (the tropical pinecone thingies), berzelia (the gray, green, yellowish balls), and that whispy lime green stuff, alchemilla robustica. We then set out to build a giant display of the warmest, most interesting colors and textures…one stem at a time. What we got is a borderline uncontrolled outpouring of flora. I’d like to say we planned it that way…”

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“In the napkins, the neutral linen tone balances the colorsplosion happening in the centerpiece — and also plays as blank slate for the eucalyptus leaf, cinnamon stick, and…”

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“Cranberry macarons! I’m using cranberry-curd from this month’s Martha Stewart Living as the filling (listed as part of this tartlet recipe), and a basic macaron shell recipe. If you’re interested in learning the art and science that is making french macarons, I think the best place to start is youtube. It’s not for the faint of heart, but the joy of getting macarons right the first time is akin to knowing more than a couple answers on Jeopardy.”

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Above image: Bowl is from West Elm.

“The funny thing is,” Connor notes, “after all of that floral-building effort and all of those cute touches and macarons and stuff all over the table, my family would take everything you see here and put it somewhere else — most likely out of the room — to make way for the main event. But, as they say, you eat with your eyes first! So here’s hoping this is a delicious first course, right?”

Irina

I live in central New Jersey and I would love to try to make my own centerpiece for the holiday table, but I don’t know where to find a wholesale flower market. Please help! I tried to google but the only one I found only sells to businesses and florists and I’m neither.
Thank you!

Connor

@Irina–Until now I’ve run into that same problem, leading me to get very resourceful at grocery store flower stands and on occasion spending the money with a florist. The best option would be to find a grocery store in your area that has a wide selection (when I lived in New York this was usually Whole Foods). OR, make friends with a florist and they can help you gain access to their larger supply!

Eileen Voss

“…..akin to knowing more than a couple of answers on Jeopardy,” made me smile. Wooden spoons to get them talking. :) What a beautiful, fun, inspirational Thanksgiving! The picture I have in my head of your guests dismantling the table’s decor and taking it to another room will sustain me if I ever host Thanksgiving again. It is the best holiday. Thank you!

Sara

I am obsessed with the macarons and that color. How do you get them the same color as the filling? Beautiful centerpiece too! The whole table is lovely.

Demar

I absolutely love this table setting and the centerpiece is quite Fab! I’m lucky enough to say that Connor’s macaroons are delicious!

Srdjan

Interesting idea for the macaron – I would say it is french meringue? I must add it to my collection. Very nice clean photos.

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