Fabric of Life: Dressing the table in crisp fine linen is the first step to refined dining

The table is the heart of the home, the place where families share the day-to-day, where big decisions and announcements are made, and where those most important to us gather for meals and celebrations. The tablecloth is vital in creating an elegant and welcoming atmosphere for dining together.

Whether in homes, hotels or smart restaurants, a tablecloth is the basis for a beautifully laid spread. While protecting the tabletop from spills, this extra layer of tactile pleasure also significantly reduces the clink of cutlery. At home, bespoke tablecloths are a great addition to any interior, enhancing the decorative theme of the dining space.

Celebrated in British dining culture, a crisp white linen tablecloth is also a part of the Hong Kong fine-dining and entertaining tradition due to our shared past. Today’s luxury table-linen purveyors offer countless choices of colour, pattern and material to suit any table and its surroundings.

Rivolta Carmignani

Historic brand Rivolta Carmignani (rivoltacarmignani.com), coveted for its bed linens and tablecloths for 150 years, employs a fully integrated, all-Italian manufacturing process that begins with the selection of precious yarns. The production combines ancient crafts like cutting, hemming and hand embroidery with the latest generation looms, ensuring durable, high-quality tablecloths. The skilled artisans of the atelier also offer a customisation service to make one’s choice of table dressing unique.

Rivolta Carmignani’s collections encompass a variety of weaves. Refined jacquard technology achieves the patterns of the Giardino Italiano line, as well as Boboli, a line of two contrasting solid colours in jacquard linen. Decoro embraces pure linen with clever three-dimensional effects, while Victorian delves into the family company’s archives for its decorative damask motif.

Precious pure cotton yarns (600 threads per square inch) create sophisticated sateen with a soft and silky hand. The Sateen Gold collection offers golden piping on crisp, sheen- like white cotton. Prices for linen tablecloths start at about HK$3,000.

La DoubleJ

The Italian-made fashion and tableware of former US journalist J.J. Martin brings vibrant joie de vivre to the tabletop. Launched in 2015, La DoubleJ (ladoublej.com) crafts linen tablecloths rooted in maximalist prints and the mood- boosting powers of chakra-conscious colours. An inspiring authority on energy elevation and the ebullient Italian way of life, the brand’s linens are made on the shores of Lake Como by local artisans, thus limiting their carbon footprint and boosting their feel-good vibe.

The Palms motif – in which bundles of palms in varying shades of green come together against a pale blue background – plays out across 100% Italian linen for a readymade centrepiece. Due to the handmade nature of the fabric, this medium-sized tablecloth features some small but charming irregularities, such as knots in the yarn.

White Turning Tulip and Wildbird Blu prints bring flora and fauna to the table respectively, while it would be hard to find a more intense colour-popping pattern than Colombo Grande. Mix and match La DoubleJ’s brilliant prints through napkins, runners and crockery for a veritable garden of delight. Tablecloths range from HK$2,500 to $4,000 in price.

Maison Margaux

Sourcing the world for unusual designs and pieces, Maison Margaux (maisonmargauxltd. com) is a luxury British homeware store selling everything for home entertaining – beautiful tablecloths, cutlery, crockery, glassware and bespoke accessories. Travelling from Portugal to Provence, and Italy to Istanbul, with inspirational visits to the English countryside and the Scottish Highlands, their collections conjure varying moods and expressions of nature. Everything is hand-selected by the team in a true labour of love.

Top of the line is the stunning hand- embroidered Noël Suzani tablecloth. Each intricate stitch is a testament to the craftsmanship behind this extraordinary collection, whose rich hues and tactile presence are a standout on every special occasion, not just Christmas.

From the pastel Turquoise Amelia in cotton, which perfectly captures the blush of spring, to the linen Burgundy Stripe in a Port- coloured pattern that nods to autumn warmth, there is a Maison Margaux tablecloth for every season. They also have collections suitable for weddings and formal events that may be rented rather than purchased. Prices (to buy) start from HK$1,300.

Summerill & Bishop

Founded in 1994 by June Summerill and Bernadette Bishop, two friends who shared an effortless sense of style, the Summerill & Bishop (summerillbishop.com) tablescape has a warm and slightly rustic vibe, but with a distinctly modern sensibility. Flowers and leaves feature on table linens that work both in the dining room and on the terrace, while abstract geometric patterns or stripes will complement any interior. Pieces are priced from HK$3,000 to HK$7,000.

Now operating two shops in London, S&B believes that if people take the time to lay the table and beautifully present a meal, they will enjoy it all the more and create a lasting memory for those who share it with them. To this end, the store offers a personalisation service on their Word, Cornice and Full Field table linens as well as some of their handmade porcelain bowls. Ideal as a gift or a personal keepsake of a memorable occasion, the Word collection enables a bold word, name or initials to be emblazoned on top-quality white linen.

In addition, a line of fine Italian linen tablecloths in a choice of classic and contemporary designs is hand-painted and printed by hand in a traditional stamperia. The most discerning customers, meanwhile, can dip into S&B’s limited-edition and made- to-order Couture collection which comprises the ivory-coloured Lyon lace tablecloth priced at HK$20,000 or three exquisite sequined designs at HK$53,000 each.