By Allison Zisko
Southern Living magazine features a lot of three-layer cakes in its pages and on its covers, but despite a prop closet filled with tabletop items, it couldn’t find the perfect cake stand on which to showcase them. Nor could it find a trifle bowl with a lid, or a number of other pieces typically used or desired by Southern hosts when entertaining, said Southern Living Editor Lindsay Bierman. So it decided to create its own collection, in collaboration with Ballard Designs.
Ballard debuted its exclusive Southern Living tabletop collection online and in its catalogs last month, featuring a line-up of products that are distinctively southern, like a sleek marble cake stand, a three-layer clear glass cake dome, mixing bowls made in Kentucky by Louisville Stoneware, and baskets inspired by the sweet-grass baskets of Charleston, S.C.
“I’ve always admired and shopped from the Ballard Designs catalog, and more recently dreamed of partnering with them on a branded tabletop collection,” Bierman said in a statement. “We’re targeting a lot of the same consumers, and as a Southern-based company, they appreciate our unique culture and aesthetic. Ballard’s creative team synched perfectly with ours to create a range of elegant, versatile, and truly affordable must-haves for every Southern table.”
Southern Living and Ballard Designs, which is headquartered in Atlanta, have worked together on other projects, most notably the magazine’s Idea House, an annual show house that has often featured Ballard furnishings. “Southern Living is a trusted source in so many areas,” said Ryan McKelvey, president of Ballard, in describing the partnership. “It’s a resource we go to time and time again for ideas and inspiration.” The collaboration, he said, was a natural fit.
In developing the collection, Southern Living started with pieces that it loved, but also took inspiration from books and the pages of the magazine. The goal, according to Bierman, was to combine “beautiful form” with “totally functional and totally versatile” pieces. You Tube videos on the Ballard site feature Southern Living editors demonstrating how to use pieces from the collection in multiple ways.
“There is a lot of tabletop in the world, but what sets this apart is that it appeals to this audience like nothing else does,” Bierman told HFN. “Each piece is definitively southern.”
The typical Southern Living reader is a woman in her 40s or 50s who is “rooted in tradition, but modern in spirit.” Often two generations (mother and daughter) are loyal readers, according to Bierman. “We conceived the collection to be a collection of instant heirlooms,” he said. “I really love what the Ballard team was able to do with the finishes on the silver pieces. I feel the patina is just right. It really fits the description.”
The initial assortment has 32 products, with prices that start at $15. A holiday collection is in the works. McKelvey said it will build on the products already introduced and will be “classic, elegant, functional and festive.”
Southern Living has license partnerships with manufacturers in other home categories, so the Ballard collection will likely focus on just tabletop. “We feel there’s still a lot of runway [in the tabletop line],” McKelvey said. “We feel there is a lot of opportunity for growth.”