The 7 Most Inspiring Tables from the New York Botanical Garden Orchid Dinner

2024 new york botanical garden orchid dinner
The 7 Most Inspiring Tables from the Orchid DinnerDarian DiCianno/

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Each year, the Orchid Dinner is held to benefit the New York Botanical Garden (NYBG) and celebrate its annual orchid show. This year's dinner, hosted at the Plaza Hotel on February 22 and sponsored by Hearst, VERANDA, and Guerlain, spotlights "Florals in Fashion," which is taking over the NYBG's Enid A. Haupt Conservatory with a riot of color and form through April 21. The orchid show features work from Collina Strada by Hillary Taymour, Dauphinette by Olivia Cheng, and FLWR PSTL by Kristen Alpaugh.

The beautiful evening consistently showcases a sale of rare and special orchids, which is followed by a magical night filled with dining and dancing. Each dinner table in the Plaza's ballroom was decorated by a floral, garden or interior designer—carefully selected by the event's design committee—with an abundant display of flora and fauna, including orchids. This year's table designers really leaned into texture, sculptural forms, bold color and hand-finished details, making each of the tablescapes an exquisite visual scene. Here, we're spotlighting seven stunning tables from the dinner that are inspiring us to create our own floral masterpieces at home.

The dinner was chaired by Mareen K. and Richard L. Chilton, Jr., J. Barclay Collins II and Kristina Durr, Ravenel Curry and Jane Moss, Gillian Hearst, Sharon and Bill Jacob, Gabrielle Saint-Genis Rodriguez, and Mrs. and Mrs. Edward K. Weld, with Susan and George Matelich serving as lead chairs. Vice chairs were Sara Arno and Kevin Cornish, Lizzie Asher, Charlotte Chilton, Naeem Crawford-Muhammad, Christopher Griffin, Daniel Howard, Casey Kohlberg, and Isabel Leeds.

Stellar Style Events

Stellar Style Events, a New York-based event company, leaned heavily into the bright yellow shades of early spring's blooming branches. Lemons were tucked into sculptural arrangements that evoked the silhouettes of couture fashion, as well.

"The delightful pairing of lemons and flowers creates a sensory symphony—zesty citrus notes harmonizing with the delicate fragrance of blooms, a celebration of nature's contrasts," says Jacqueline Elfe, the founder and creative director of the brand. "[We enhanced] the monochromatic visual with a touch of metallic brilliance, elevating the overall aesthetic to a sophisticated and modern allure."

Metallic leaf-inspired plates decorated with hints of yellow lemon and orchids finished out the sophisticated tablescape.

table design by stellar style events
Marlon Co/NYBG

Hoerr Schaudt

"Inspiration was drawn from all the beautiful gardens we've worked on throughout the years—a classic garden never goes out of fashion," says Stephanie Zawada, senior associate at Hoerr Schaudt, the firm founded in Chicago in 2008 by Doug Hoerr and Peter Schaudt.

Zawada further adds, "The orchids were incorporated as a special element, [as] there are always special details in the gardens that we design."

The designers used blooming branches (quince, viburnum, azalea); textures like ferns, rosemary, ivy and jasmine; and favorite flowers like peonies, garden roses, clematis, sweet peas and pansies, which came together to create a Garden of Eden-esque centerpiece. The center container was sourced from one of the firm's choice vendors, Pennoyer Newman, and the table was also decorated with delicate bud vases styled with moss and potting soil.

table design by hoerr schaudt
Marlon Co/NYBG

Flowers by Ford

"I took a group of my girlfriends to The Cotswolds last September for my 30th birthday," says Molly Ford, of Flowers by Ford. "On that trip, we visited the Highgrove Gardens, which is the private home of King Charles III and Queen Camilla. We spent the morning on their garden tour, and I cried several times. It was one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. It has been my driving force of inspiration ever since."

Classic English garden style inspired Ford's design for the evening, and the theme of the NYBG's orchid show blended seamlessly. Ford did not preorder any florals this year, but instead, let the iconic New York flower market really drive the direction for the flora and fauna. Jasmine, orchids in a rainbow of colors, and topiaries created a base layer for floating table lamps.

table design by flowers by ford
Marlon Co/NYBG

Eriko Nagata Floral Studio

Eriko Nagata, the New York-based floral designer who was raised in Japan, ran with this year's fashion theme for her table design.

"The design and colors for my table were inspired by the traditional Japanese kimono," she says. "This piece creates a striking impression with its tall, sculptural grass. I also used delicate Japanese orchids and Vanda orchids with a gradient of five shades of purple."

The towering installation was quite striking in person—not only because of its height and power, but also for its juxtaposition of organic grasses and lush orchid blooms.

table design by eriko nagata floral studio
Marlon Co/NYBG

In Situ Garden Design

Sebastian Trujillo, the creative behind In Situ Garden Design, took inspiration from the mountains of his home country of Colombia. The design for his table paid homage to how so many different varieties of plants—like yellow oncidium orchids and tree ferns—all grow alongside each other in nature.

Trujillo says, "This centerpiece [also] ties back to the orchid show by giving an example of how natures dresses itself with mountain like landscapes acting as a green skirt, a lush tree fern acting almost as a mannequin and lots of golden yellow oncidiums, and slipper orchids as a garments jewelry adding detail to the piece."

The dinner plates, designed by Adam Charlap of Charlap Hyman & Herrero, add the perfect sparkle to the table, pulling it all together.

Trujillo further adds about his experience, "I’ve been involved with NYBG since I was in high school, working there for almost 2 years before I went to college. The NYBG has always been my primary source of inspiration, and now as a landscape designer and horticulturist, one of my life goals was to participate in one of their iconic Orchid Dinners."

table design by in situ garden design
Marlon Co/NYBG

Botanique K by Cloud

"I love when I see fashion that is a bit of a surprise in color combinations or in unusual combinations or textures and details that work beautifully without standing out too much," says Keiko Ellis of Botanique K by Cloud. "I wanted to create the table to be like fashion that has a fine balance of elegance and fun."

Ellis layered color to create depth in her design, using the teal of the tablecloth and the amethyst hues of the orchids.

"NYBG has always been one of favorite places in New York, and it keeps me inspired discovering all the flowers and plants each and every season," Ellis adds. "I feel honored to [have been] part of this special dinner for three years in a row. I [also] very much enjoy the rare opportunity to see magnificent designers all working side by side in one place."

table design by botanique k by cloud
Marlon Co/NYBG

Studio Thomas James

"With the Orchid Dinner held annually in February, we wanted to capture the excitement of the current moment and so [we] looked to the Chinese zodiac and the prosperous omen the "Year of the Dragon" represents," says Philip Vanderford, principal and founder of Studio Thomas James. "The dragon is also a regal and auspicious symbol of power, harmony and balance, befitting orchids."

The color palette of the table was driven by the beautiful deep blue marbled vessel created by Dallas-based ceramicist Paul Schneider. The sherbet yellow of Ginori's Oriente Italiano plates, along with the softer shades of the orchids and flowering branches, helped bring down the stronger shade of the emerald tablecloth.

table design by studio thomas james
Marlon Co/NYBG

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