We've never seen tableware look so stylish. Everyday place settings come to life as dapper dinner guests in "Dinner Etiquette," a series of still-life photographs styled by Melbourne-based art director Sonia Rentsch and shot by Australian photographer Scott Newett.
In each photograph, spoons double as bow ties, teacups transform into dainty-looking hats and napkins become well-starched shirt collars. The place settings are arranged to depict unmistakeable personalities, all dressed to the nines in formal dinner attire inspired by tableware Rentsch found in her cupboard.
“The materials in 'Dinner Etiquette' are exactly what they appear to be," Rentsch says. "Plates, saucers, cutlery, crockery, napery -- they belong to me, my parents and my generous friends who I was staying with at the time."
Rentsch used different pieces from her dinnerware in contrasting shapes and colors to create 'characters' ranging from the strapping butler (pieced together from a simple black square plate and serving tray), to the more dashing Great Gatsby-like gentleman (made with a napkin pocket square and glass of whisky.)
Beautifully photographed by Newett, whose expert use of lighting and shadows makes each setting pop against neutral backgrounds, there's no denying the artistry behind each set. And yet, Rentsch says she stumbled across the idea by accident as she was unpacking a box of dishes and utensils that had sat in storage.
"Unwrapping them one by one I realized they had distinct characteristics attached to them," she says. "I was in a small room that had limited space and I had to keep piling them on top of each other. Little stories started playing out and rather than pile everything back into a kitchen cupboard I spent time moving them around until they became like friends at a dinner party."
Her favorite? The well-dressed set she later nicknamed the “Dandy,” constructed from odds and ends found around her studio, including a corkscrew wine opener, butter knife and paisley napkin.
“It seems to fit with what his character would be like if he were real - the late arrival, the mischievous one,” she says.
Rentsch, who completed “Dinner Etiquette” with Newett in December, says interest in the series has been so high that she has made 25 prints of each shot available for purchase on her website.
All photos by Scott Newett