Stylish supper club duo Jackson & Levine have launched their debut homeware collection for Habitat. Featuring handwoven table linens, easy-to-wear aprons and striped napkins, the pieces are designed for simple, informal dining. Perfect for intimate suppers for two, laid-back Friday nights with friends and thrown-together gatherings in the garden this summer.
If you’re not familiar with Jackson & Levine – broadcasters Laura Jackson and Alice Levine – they host a London-based supper club. The girls first met at a jumble sale and bonded over a shared love of food. The supper club started life out in Laura’s warehouse flat in east London in 2012, inviting as many people as they had chairs, and has since grown to become a successful food and lifestyle business, with tickets for intimate dinners selling out in seconds.
At these highly sought after events, popping up in places like a canal-side ceramics factory or a hidden art gallery, they serve up simple, seasonal dishes using locally sourced ingredients. They’re curated to be fairly informal affairs, much like an informal dinner party with friends, except you don’t have to cook or do the washing up!
They say: ‘Hosting was our mutual passion – getting everyone around a big table, laying out a feast and creating that warm feeling that comes from full stomachs and noisy chat. The beauty of having people round for a meal is the bustle and commotion of an evening shared, coupled with the intimate feeling of being a guest in someone’s home.’
The other week I was invited to an evening at Habitat’s Tottenham Court Road to check out the collection and get to know the duo. We made beautiful, wild floral displays (you can see mine below!) with florist Worm London, who do all of Jackson & Levine’s supper club flowers, and gathered around a table for simple tips on creating the perfect dinner party.
The new tableware for Habitat has been conceived as staples for the dining table and kitchen – you know that favourite pile of table linen, that just gets better with age, and that you can pass down through generations. When they were developing the designs, Laura even took the fabric home to her to make sure it would stand up to several rounds of washing.
They’re made using a khadi-base cloth created by one of Habitat’s oldest suppliers in India. The cloth is something of a dying art, hand-spun and hand-woven in a traditional weaving village.
Khadi cloth has the relaxed quality of linen, but the weave is a bit looser. The texture of each piece is entirely individual and the cloth has a lovely, soft tactility to it. Stripes give the collection an enduring appeal, while green, printed botanical motifs give a nod to the foraged herbs Jackson & Levine use in their cooking and table decorating.
The collection comprises an apron, a set of tea towels, a table runner, tablemats and napkins – prices start at £20.00.
Jackson & Levine have also just launched their first cookbook, Round to Ours, published by Quadrille. The book comprises 24 menus for every occasion, from Mexican fiestas and curry nights, to summer garden parties and canapés for a crowd. It will tell you how to set the mood, wow friends and create a delicious feast to remember.
A few days after I received the book, a friend came over and we made two recipes together. It was spur of the moment, relaxed, super simple and so lovely – jewelled couscous with lots of diced herbs and peach and mozzarella panzanella with crispy ciabatta croutons. Perfect summer fare.
Their cooking and entertaining style attempts to take the stress out of get-togethers, showing that dinner parties don’t have to involve slaving behind a stove all day or planning for months in advance. It’s all about sharing moments together – the food is important but it’s also about creating a relaxed ambience, chatting with like-minded people, sharing ideas and whiling away the hours so you get to 12am and you don’t know where the time has gone you’ve had such a good evening.
Little things are key – picking out a killer playlist, lighting a few candles, setting the table, arranging a few herbs or a carefully chosen flower on each plate for example. Jackson & Levine suggest bottling up a few leftovers for each guest so they have a nice surprise to eat or drink the next day. Or if you’re a guest to someone else’s dinner party, why not take a really nice bottle of olive oil for the host? Everyone takes a bottle of wine from the local corner shop, but decent olive oil isn’t always something you’d buy for yourself.
So, what are your recipes for a successful dinner party or small gathering? Got any tips of your own?
All imagery courtesy of Habitat, lifestyle imagery (main image + 1, 3, 5 and bottom two) : Kristin Perers for www.habitat.co.uk