Event designer Jung Lee is legendary for over-the-top touches. But despite her extravagant style, her approach to designing a buffet is super-practical. Read more >

By M. Elizabeth Sheldon
Updated May 23, 2017

Event designer Jung Lee of New York City's Fête is legendary for over-the-top touches—at one holiday party, for instance, she draped the women's bathrooms of the New York Public Library in velvet and installed two parrots trained to dole out compliments. But despite such extravagant gestures, her approach to designing a buffet is super-practical. "If you don't have to use a tablecloth, don't," she says. "Things are going to drip, and you're going to have icky stains. Instead, put down a piece of slate or something else you can wipe off." Lee recommends keeping adornments to a minimum: the less decoration, the less mess. Instead, she likes to focus on unexpected serving vessels—using long, narrow dishes instead of big bowls. Not coincidentally, the eponymous Manhattan store she opened with her husband in May sells items that are perfect for the style of buffet she favors. A wooden sushi tray from Massachusetts doubles as a cheese board; thick slices of agate geode can be used as coasters or hors d'oeuvres platters. "Every piece should be multifunctional," says Lee. "It can't just sit there and look pretty."