Fresh-Pressed Success

Even a designer as busy as Suzanne Kasler welcomes time to unwind, when the holidays usher in a joyous time to indulge. So what better way to entertain this luxury–and commemorate a career milestone for this discerning doyenne–than the St. Regis holiday Tea?

Designer Suzanne Kasler has had quite a year—jet-setting to projects across the country; designing collections for Visual Comfort, Hickory Chair and Safavieh; and, currently, developing a line of fabrics for Lee Jofa. But perhaps the most important milestone of her year and, arguably, her career, is the arrival of her new design book. Inspired Interiors ($50, Rizzoli Publishing) was recently released, just in time for the holidays. Comprising more than 200 color photographs of past projects and spanning 20 years of work, the retrospective reveals, in stunning detail, why the principal of Suzanne Kasler Interiors is so acclaimed for her classic approach that embraces livable comfort, a mix of antiques and eras, dressmaker details and European style.

As always with Suzanne Kasler and her cadre, no detail goes overlooked—which is why they chose the St. Regis Holiday Tea as the perfect setting to celebrate the book’s arrival. Continuing customs started by the St. Regis more than a century ago, when John Jacob Astor IV established the American hotel to be as opulent as those in Europe, the afternoon tea retains the essence of that bygone era. Served in front of a limestone fireplace amid stylish seating, plush rugs, glittering lights and crystal, and towering ceilings, the daily event offers all the comfort and elegance of a beautiful Buckhead home.

“There’s a great energy at the St. Regis, and tea time is such a good way to punctuate the end of a day or the week,” says the designer. “It’s a special time for reflection, when the day can come to a pause, creating an atmosphere that’s both engaging and civilized.

“In design, you’re working at such an intense pace, so to see it all come together feels great. We wanted to reflect, as a group, on the journey we took to get here.”

Arriving on a Friday afternoon in their most festive attire, the group gathered for a spread of treats as beautiful as they were delectable: tiered trays laden with sweet vanilla panna cotta and peppermint gelee; double-chocolate sea salt cookies with red and green sprinkles; shortbread “window” cookies filled with cranberry jam; freshly baked scones; and savory finger sandwiches like duck-prosciutto with baby arugula and parmesan, chicken curry with cucumber and truffle mayo, and smoked salmon with caper-dill cream. With no fewer than 15 blends of international teas to choose from—including the signature St. Regis Atlanta variety, a refreshing peach-infused black tea—guests took in the aromas of each from tiny tester bottles before selecting their favorites which, once pressed, ranged in color from warm amber to rich brown. The finest accoutrements were offered alongside: a variety of honeys, tangy lemon slices, seasonal jams, chutneys and traditional clotted cream, all enjoyed by a warm and toasty fire—one of four in the Long Gallery overlooking the lobby’s grand curving double staircases. And for this Holiday Tea, there was an added touch: a round of flutes filled with sparkling wine could be heard clinking with the happy toasts of success.

For Kasler and her talented cohorts, an occasion as significant as the launch of her new book called for a truly indulgent holiday treat. Crafted under the direction of St. Regis Atlanta pastry chef Ryan Wells, the group enjoyed a mélange of sweets and savories as part of a cheery Holiday Tea that made the transition to the weekend—and a more festive time of year—that much more fun. This seasonal St. Regis tradition remains true to the legacy set up by the Astors more than a century ago, when the family and their hotels were synonymous with exclusivity, elegance and grace.

Suzanne Kasler, Suzanne Kasler Interiors; 425 Peachtree Hills Ave. NE, Suite 21B, Atlanta 30305; (404) 355-1035; St. Regis Atlanta Hotel & Residences 88 West Paces Ferry Rd., Atlanta 30305; (404) 563-7900;