Designing Table Tales

Angela Manners takes you behind the scenes of her recent project, the design of Table Tales.
Table Tales

You have heard about Table Tales, haven’t you? It is the little book that really isn’t a just book. It’s an experience. And you can’t put a price on that! The book may cost $69 but it gives you ten exceptional venues to dine at (no need to think! yay!). Each of those places will give you either a free second main or 20% off their omakase/tasting menu when that’s their speciality. You also receive perks with each of their five brand partners.

I was so thrilled to be able to help photograph, design and work on this publication with co-founder Karin van Vliet. The story of how Table Tales went from an idea and concept to a beautiful hardcover book that I can hold in my hands is another experience altogether. Let me tell you about it.

Table Tales Prop

Table Tales, a proud addition to my desk (and used as a prop for so many pics already).

Eat, eat, eat

Way before the design began, Karin and Peter Ulrich were already dining out and evaluating restaurants to approach for Table Tales. I was invited to join on a few of these dinners so I know first hand that all these meals were paid for out of their own pockets. They were done incognito, without the restaurant knowing that they were being considered and each venue was evaluated based on food, ambience, service and overall experience.

You see, the difference between Table Tales and other restaurant guides is that the restaurants cannot pay to be included in the book. They are selected based on merit.

Table Tales Karin and Peter

Karin and Peter at the launch of Table Tales 2018.

Creative briefing

When we finally began talking about the brand, Table Tales, and design of the books, Karin was insistent that it should not look like a restaurant guidebook. She wanted it to flow and look beautiful. She wanted people to flip through and read the content as if it were picture book and a special keepsake… and that it is. On every restaurant page is a place for the chef to sign his name and say “thank you for coming”. To me, this is a very special part of owning a Table Tales book and there have only been 3,000 printed so they are limited edition too.

Table Tales Launch

Limited Edition Table Tales books set up at the launch event at Lumas Galleries.

Concept and design

For the design concept, we knew the cover would be the most important part. It needed to grab your attention and also represent what Table Tales was about. We also wanted it to be meaningful and showcase each restaurant in the book this year. The question was how to get this done without becoming a busy mess of photos.

The visual idea came to us almost right away. Why not use plates from each venue on the actual cover of the book. This was an elegant and gorgeous way to create a cohesive design and give a clue as to what was inside.

The set up of our cover flat lay at the photoshoot.

Plates on the floors

Once the creative direction was decided on, Karin started collecting crockery from all the various venues. For a couple of days, my floor (aka, our “photo studio”) was covered in dishes, knives, forks, bowls, and various items from all these special places. I really wanted to keep some of these because they were so beautiful!

First, we set up a flat lay that we loved, making sure that each venue was represented. This was to be our cover. Then we did probably a thousand different other shots, some of which you will see featured in the Table Tales Instagram feed @yourtabletales.

Table Tales Behind the Scenes

Behind the scenes. This was a shot for Bacco Wines, one of Table Tales Brand Partners. Check out the masking tape markers at the top and bottom.

FSC isn’t just about paper

We found this out the hard way! It was at the very last minute when our printer told us that we could not print the FSC logo on the back. This was because the printer was not FSC certified for the entire process, even if the paper was. FSC certification actually costs quite a bit more and this was not negotiable for Karin who is passionate about sustainability. If her book had to be printed on paper, then it had to be FSC certified.

The problem was, we HAD to send the book to print immediately or we wouldn’t have any copies for the launch! Fortunately, another printer, NPE Print Communications came to our rescue. They were both FSC certified and could produce the job on time and on budget. Phew! After all the panic, we got it off to print.

A week later, we spent a day at the printer checking each and every sheet and watching pages come off the presses.

Ten wonderful restaurants

The ten specially selected restaurants in this year’s book are amazing. Each one is unique. And just like each of the items we used on the cover, they each have their own character and flair. I can’t wait to try them all. With the book, each restaurant has a something special for you when you dine there.

Receive a free second main course at:

Receive 20% off a set menu at:

Table Tales Partners

The collection of Brand Partners in the Table Tales book.

Don’t forget the Brand Partners

We also shot photos for Table Tales selected Brand Partners so we would have additional photographic content to use in the book and throughout the year for marketing. Karin spent a lot of time carefully curating the partners that are in this year’s book and each one gives you a special privilege. They are listed below and you receive them when you purchase a Table Tales book. Don’t you think they are fantastic!

  • Bacco Wines – receive a complimentary members account worth $88.
  • T2 – spend $60 at any outlet and receive an All Sorts box with a selection of ten T2 classic loose-leaved teas in individual tea bags.
  • Lumas Galleries – enjoy an exclusive tour of their gallery while enjoying a glass of Prosecco and some chocolate.
  • EC Proof – take a friend with you and join one of their Salon Socials on Friday nights from 6-8pm.
  • The Fishwives – enjoy $25 off when shopping at their Cluny Court store.

Be sure and check the book for details.

It’s not just a book. It’s an experience.

So when the cover of Table Tales says “It’s not just a book. It’s an experience.” That is the honest truth because I was there through almost every step in the process. I got to see how carefully each restaurant and brand partner was selected and beyond that, how much thought and love went into creating this beautiful book.

For more details and to purchase, visit

Facebook: yourtabletales
Instagram: yourtabletales

Table Tales Prop

Table Tales is certainly “prop-worthy”. If you’ve used it as a prop in a photo, please share that with us! #vanillabeige or #mytabletales so we can find you.



Angela Manners loves finding an interesting story and talking to people about what they are passionate about. She is Australian but was born in Bangkok, grew up in Southeast Asia and then studied in America. Angela is passionate about coffee, food and everything that surrounds them.
No Comment

Leave a Reply

Newsletter Sign Up!

Latest Posts