Hosting a Summer Garden Party? Set Your Table with These Hand-Painted Ceramics
Mix and match Pomelo Casa’s hand-painted Spanish ceramics to create an inviting table at your next summer garden party.
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“It was exciting to find a product that was kind of untouched,” says Francesca de la Fuente, a Los Angeles-based interior designer and owner of the ceramics and tableware business, Pomelo Casa. “This style of ceramics, which is specific to Granada, where I grew up, had never been imported to the U.S. You had to travel to the area to find it. It felt undiscovered.”
De la Fuente grew up in the south of Spain, where her mother served meals to friends and family around the table from plates and bowls that are similar to the styles de la Fuente has created for the line, which she introduced to Los Angeles shoppers at the Echo Park Craft Fair and now sells at small housewares and decor stores like Nickey Kehoe and Heather Taylor Home in L.A. All of the products are also available through her website.
“It’s been made in the region since the 16th century in traditional green and blue, handmade and hand-painted by artisans who’ve been doing this for many years,” de la Fuente says. “If you went to a different part of the country, like Barcelona, you wouldn’t find the style there.”
On a trip to Spain a few years ago, she was struck by the similarities between the lifestyle of the region and the Silver Lake neighborhood on L.A.’s east side, where she’s lived for the last eight years.
“I was home visiting my mother and it occurred to me that people would love this style in California. The weather and the style of the two places is so similar,” she says. “So, I visited a few factories and used my design background to put my own spin on it.”
Now that her business is growing, the demand for her signature dishes, bowls, and pitchers has increased, and the artists she works with in Spain have started hiring apprentices to learn the firing and painting techniques to keep the tradition alive.
“Traditionally the artisans have always been men, but there are young girls that are into learning and being a part of this community,” de la Fuente says.
For summer dinner parties in her backyard, de la Fuente likes to set an eclectic table of mismatched dinnerware, colorful linens that are vaguely color coordinated, and a mix of traditional glassware. She’ll set the table with a white cloth and then drape fabric, or a sarong, over the center for color and pattern. The imperfection appeals to her.
“I’ll put a candle in a Pomelo Casa bowl, and mix and match plates in all the colors,” she says. Her go-to menu is equally Spanish-inflected, with classics like tortilla espanola, gazpacho, and cheese and olives. Before dinner, she follows another Granada tradition by serving vermouth with a slice of orange to stimulate the appetite. For decoration, she’ll put cut flowers in a pitcher, or slice fruit and place it around the table for color and texture, “making it feel homey and very casual.”
“After dinner, when it’s hot, I like to serve gin and tonics in globe glass with plenty of ice,” she says. “In Spain, we have this tradition of ‘sobremesa,’ which is relaxing around the table, sometimes for hours, after a meal is over. When I have people at my house here in L.A., we just call it hanging in the backyard.”