Designer Jenni Kayne always wanted to publish a book — she just didn’t know what exactly it would be about. After several years of people approaching her with proposals for different book projects, she finally homed in on the perfect topic for her debut: a book on entertaining. Out now from Rizzoli, “Pacific Natural: Simple Seasonal Entertaining” reflects her love of planning and hosting events, rooted in holistic wellness and a West Coast aesthetic.
“I’m really passionate about living in California and living well,” says Kayne, sitting in the lofted skylit basement of her neutral-toned Tribeca store. The designer had just touched down in New York for the week from L.A., where she lives with her husband, three children, and menagerie of pets. In addition to being organized by season, each section of the book highlights a different area of California, including Ojai, Santa Ynez, Los Angeles and Lake Tahoe, where she spends her summers.
“I really believe in living seasonally and living in rhythm with nature and trying to slow down as much as possible,” she says. “I think we all live such crazy lives right now, especially you guys in New York, and there’s something really nice about living seasonally, whether that means eating detoxifying greens and raw food in the spring, and cozy warm soups in the winter. Your body craves that during certain seasons, and I think it allows you to be in the moment and a little bit more grounded.”
Kayne offers tips for incorporating outdoor elements whenever possible: mini baguettes are wrapped with twine and topped with a sprig of rosemary; a fall tablescape is decked with nut shells and apples. “If you’re in an apartment, bring nature inside and have it on your table. You don’t have to be outside under olive trees,” she says. (For those particularly interested in the indoors, Kayne is already in talks with Rizzoli about her next book, which may likely tackle interior decorating.)
There’s also a floral arranging guide as well as instructions for utilizing flowers for tea or child-friendly crowns. “I love taking a seasonal ingredient, and using it to kind of inspire and dictate the menu and the table decor and the cocktails,” she adds. “We have a beautiful rosemary dinner, citrus dinner — but you could do it with anything: basil, mint, thyme, different kinds of citrus.”
The book is family-inclusive, and many of the photos show her children, husband, and rescue dog Bubba Louie. A few goats also make appearances throughout the pages.
“My whole thing is that entertaining is really about taking a moment to slow down and to come together with those you love and create memories and traditions,” she says. “I do a lot of entertaining with kids but also without. I think kids just add to the chaos and make everything a little more fun and more relaxed.”
Although the scope of the parties shown in the book is certainly aspirational, Kayne hopes that one takeaway is the notion that anyone, anywhere, is capable of entertaining, with or without the perfection of a dinner underneath olive trees in SoCal.
“I have so many girlfriends that love coming over to my house, but never want to reciprocate because it’s too much pressure for them. I think if they just let their guard down a little bit, they would be fine,” says Kayne. “A lot of people get anxious or nervous about having people over and having everything be so perfect, but really I think there’s beauty in imperfection.”
At the end of the day, Kayne’s approach to hosting an entertaining party boils down to a simple list of instructions.
“The whole point is to create beauty: set a beautiful table, whether it’s a family-style buffet or seated — it doesn’t need to be fancy — and enjoy delicious food with your friends and family.”
More from the Eye: