With characteristic creativity, photographer Lindsey Shaun and designer Amber Dickson style a relaxed and festive dinner party based, surprisingly, on a palette of black.

When it comes to on-trend colors, black is, well, the new black. So it comes as no surprise that when photographer Lindsey Shaun paired with Amber Dickson of Amber Reverie Floral and Event Design to stage a stylish dinner party, the imaginative duo chose a monochromatic palette based on the darkest of colors. “I wanted layers of texture and different levels of depth using the black tones, so I collaborated with Amber to create what I envisioned,” Shaun says. Their goal: Give black a lift. “Black can feel formal, stark and often heavy, but we used it to shape a moody, modern and organic look instead,” Dickson explains. From furnishings to flowers, place settings to platters, black drove the stylish dinner party’s distinctive design.
“You walk in and see the dark and moody colors, but the look is comfortable and casual, not formal or somber,” Shaun says. “We wanted it to be laid back and a bit romantic,” Dickson adds. To create this ambiance, Shaun and Dickson beautifully staged a distressed, gray-washed wood table and set it in front of a black wall with
a flat-finish that helps relax the scene. To avoid a cave-like feel, Shaun paid close attention to the lighting. “With black, you have to have generous, but adjustable, lighting to prevent a dark, muddled look,” she explains. “The dimmer you go, the moodier it gets.” Thoughtful lighting reflects off a carefully curated mix of textures, finishes and pops of color that bring life to black elements and adds depth and character to the table and room.
“I wanted to avoid a lot of distractions on the table so I decided on a single arrangement as the star,” Dickson explains. Influenced by the chiaroscuro style of the Dutch Master paintings, Dickson paired dramatic light and dark tones in an arrangement that is typical of her style: loose and natural. “Its asymmetrical, somewhat wild look helps shape the relaxed vibe of the party,” she says. She began with black ranunculus, chocolate cosmos and black-centered anemones and then captured tones from them adding grayish roses and gold-tinted foliage. She finished the centerpiece with plum branches and blackberries and then staged fresh plums beneath. “The centerpiece adds enormous dimension to the monochromatic palette,” Shaun says.
“A simple setting can be just as impactful as an elaborate one,” Dickson says. To prove it, she placed textured black ceramic plates on simply folded gray napkins and framed them with contemporary flatware made with organic handles. Dark-based goblets add a touch of sparkle. “The simple place settings don’t draw attention away from the centerpiece,” she says. Menu cards created by Refine Studio finish each setting. “I love menu cards, even for small dinner parties” Dickson explains. “They show you put a lot of thought into your menu. They also get guests excited about the courses and give them each a memento to take home.”
Shaun and Dickson collaborated with Cuisine Unlimited to develop a menu that captured the dark tones and casual flavor of the evening. The pros served artisan cheese on a natural stone platter and garnished it with black mission figs and local honey. They also plated the main course of beef tenderloin with blackberry chipotle and a side of fingerling potatoes. Water infused with blackberries and plums accompanies the meal. For dessert, a dark chocolate bundt cake by Flour & Flourish reinforced the dinner party’s dark palette and relaxed-yet-festive style.
written by: Brad Mee  
photos by: Lindsey Shaun

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