Sotheby's: Annabel’s talks about a ‘hand-picked alchemy’ when selecting members for the club. How would you extend that ethos to the guestlist for a successful – and fun – dinner party?
Astrid Harbord: The committee at Annabel’s works hard to ensure that it brings together a diverse mix of interesting and dynamic people from different worlds, both new and established. For a dinner party, I would look to adopt the same ethos on a smaller scale, but not to overthink it. A good mix of male and female guests always allows for balanced and fun conversation! We have worked hard to obtain a 50/50 balance of male and female in our membership base at the club today, which continues to evolve as a group of innovative and multi-generational mix of people.
S: What should be the starting point for styling a fabulous table – the linen, the candles, the dinner service – or something else entirely?
AH: The service and of course, the guest list.
S: What do you want people to feel when they walk through the doors at Annabel’s?
AH: We want to make our members and their guests feel a sense of fun and like they are a part of something very special as soon as they walk through the door. From the service to the interior design, attention to detail is at the forefront of what Annabel’s stands for.
S: If you are having to put together a last-minute event and you can only have pared-down table, what would be your one must-have item to elevate the evening and give a sense of occasion?
AH: Echoing my answer to the previous question above, I would say service sets the tone of the evening and when it is complemented by an unparalleled attention to detail, your evening should be very enjoyable.
S: How did you develop the interior concept for Annabel’s?
AH: The interior design of the Club was carefully designed by the wonderful Martin Brudnizki. He and Mr Caring worked very closely for their vision to come to life, to create a Members Club that is like no other in London that will transport you away from reality. The overarching theme of "the spirit of English eccentricity" was the starting point, each room was then inspired by a different concept to create the emporium of different spaces within the Club.
S: What is your favourite room in the Club?
AH: It’s hard to have a favourite when they are all so different in character! I love the Garden, nothing can beat starting the day with a breakfast in this space. In the evening, the Mexican comes alive and is a really vibrant space for delicious food and great cocktails.
S: What are your favourite pieces from the Dining In sale, and how would you style them for a dinner or drinks party?
AH: I have selected the below items from the Dining In sale, although it wasn’t easy to whittle down! The Harlequin set of enamelled plates are so ornate and would be the perfect way to add colourful accents to the table setting.
The pair of French ‘Etruscan’ glass wine coolers are stunning and would look great in the Rose room at Annabel’s! I would use these to serve bottles of champagne to guests or perhaps a refreshing dessert wine. The twelve shell-shaped cellars are divine and I love the idea of each guest having their own at a dinner party. The Chinese export kettle and burner would act as a real centrepiece for petit fours, tea and coffee at the end of an evening.
S: Who would be on your personal dream dinner party list?
AH: Basil Fawlty serving the food, Nelson Mandela, Winston Churchill, Michelle Obama, Gautama Buddha, Frank Sinatra and Audrey Hepburn.