We’ve been inspired by Padma Lakshmi for quite some time — as a host and judge of the wildly successful Top Chef, she combines intelligence, humor, and plenty of knowledge of all things food. And all those qualities are in play in The Padma Collection — her first line of dinnerware, distinguished by the vibrancy, depth, and cultural awareness that define her as a person. We talked to Lakshmi about her inspirations behind the line … and what’s coming next.
How do you describe the collection? I hope that people find the line elegant yet specific — and different from anything else that’s out there. Our florals are meant to be fresh and organic without looking too dated or staid. Our Minakari pieces are a nod to Eastern silversmith carving patterns without being too literal. The glassware is classic and translucent but really feels like a jewel in your hand. We wanted all our pieces to feel like rare treasures found in faraway places but, at the same time, work seamlessly with the decor that’s already a part of your home.
Describe your design aesthetic at home. It’s pretty much the same as our collection! I actually use all those plates and glasses every day as well as for special occasions like Thanksgiving. I also collect French and Italian chandeliers from the Belle Epoque period as well as bagues from the ‘20s. If I had to find a term, and I’m cringing as I say this, I guess it would be an eclectic mix of Euro-Asian pieces.
What’s your table at home like? My table changes with every meal. Sometimes it has my child’s crayons scattered among the soup bowls and nacho platters while other times, I break out all the antique silver pieces I have collected with only white, gold and silver wedding bone china from Tiffany & Co. Other occasions, it’s as colorful as a Turkish bazaar with rose petals strewn over table linens from Sicily.
How has your experience in the food world, particularly on Top Chef, informed your design? Only in that I want serving and dinnerware that can showcase a variety of dishes. Finding the shapes and colors that work best to highlight and compliment the food without upstaging it is important. But it’s a pretty clinical environment at work, and the only time the dish comes into question is when it does the food a disservice. So in a way I guess, it hasn’t given an idea about what to do, as much as what NOT to do!
What’s your biggest table-design pet peeve? I don’t like when the floral arrangements are so big and tailored that I can’t see the person across from me. I also don’t like when it’s too perfectly set. It makes me nervous, like I’m going to spill my red wine all over and ruin everything.
What do you have coming next? I want to add some more serving pieces, and also more of our spun Turkish glass. I would love to do bakeware, and also glass dinner service. We also have some placemats and tablecloths in the pipeline. Linens are another great place to be really creative.
Finally, what’s the most critical element of a perfect table? The people dining at it.