Combine your products with a culinary story

Imagine a late Sunday morning, a table with fresh flowers, the paper and with amazing sunlight highlighting the beautiful wooden surface. Served, are two perfect lattes, where the latte art almost makes you chill out of pure perfection.

The plates that follow have food straight from heaven loaded on them. Rye bread with avocado sliced in symmetric pieces, greek yogurt with fresh berries and homemade granola. Oh, the granola. Scrambled eggs, bacon and a plate of pancakes in a symphony with all that is wonderful and sweet. The glasses, cups, and china awake the appetite and transfers you right to the set table.

The only thing a sane person would want to do at this point is to dig in and enjoy the masterpiece that is set before them. But, it is just an image in the feed. 

Instagram opened the door for a new kind of art to be added to the daily feed. The art of food. Styled and combined with beautiful china in a setting that gives the plate a story. Presenting kitchen utensils with a narrative brings out the flavor and taste through the screen which lets it resonates with its engaged audience. Kitchen accounts attract and invite everyone to be a part of the experience. Which also makes the products in the photo easy to connect with and more desirable. 

The food styling genre was an obvious self-made category to blossom when SoMe became a bigger part of our lives. What should we post if not our food? Since everyone can relate to the experience. It’s a big part of who we are and for a brand, it’s a golden opportunity to showcase personality and invite your followers to the table with you to share your brand story.

For a foodie (a serious food enthusiast) it’s a given to not just buy new porcelain from watching a raw product image. It needs something more. Because brands today don’t just wanna have customers buying products, they want a loyal relationship with their users and storytelling is one efficient way to do so.

After scanning through the web and reading several blog posts about culinary styling we have boiled it all down to three things to think about when you to tell your brand story on the table. Factors you, as a brand, can think about when it comes to using your products combined with food.


1. Tell a story

People need context to be able to relate to the image you are serving them. Trigger an emotional connection so they want to be a part of your dinner party. Using different surfaces can help determine where the tray with pizza is eaten. The props you use will reveal what season we are in and the usage of lighting tells the audience if we’re having pancakes for breakfast or dinner. This will indicate in what context the products can be used.

Who do you want to share your new collection of glasses with? That will determine what story to build up a set for. If you want to communicate to a family with kids, adding some chaos to the image with spilled milk on the table or show that your cutlery can stand a toddler by photographing a child’s hands holding the spoon can contribute to those personality features. 

In 2019 we also focus a lot on imperfection, so don’t be afraid to let the creative process and the work of getting there be a part of the finished product. It gives a sense of authenticity and also welcomes the viewer into the kitchen and not just to a perfect dining-room. The table cloth doesn’t have to be perfectly ironed. Show details of items being used where life happens.

A brand can think of the combination of food and products like an invitation. You want your audience to come and share a meal with you. And when they do, they will most likely wanna use your products.


2. Use textures

A picture today needs to pop. Since we’re constantly fed new impressions a picture only has two seconds to catch the viewer’s attention. A monochrome picture won’t catch anyone’s eye. That’s why the use of different textures can be a tool to grab the viewer by the eye-balls. It can add depth to your photo by thinking about the camera angle you use.

If you’re photographing a tray for example, maybe a flatlay image would be the best angle to portrait what you can use the tray for. A bowl’s best angle is probably a portrait to capture depth and details. Is it a very colorful vase you’re photographing a plain table cloth is the best styling to make your product the hero of the image. Is it your colorful saucepan you want to sell through your photo? Serve food that lacks color. Just add some herbs for the yumminess factor. Or when using colorful objects, bringing out that same color can add to your image or create contrast by adding another color to illustrate a combination that is tempting for the eye.

If you’re selling porcelain, a beautiful plate for example, add a portion of glorious carbonara in it. And for some characteristics, add some parmesan circling the plate, use cutlery that has lived through decades, linen napkins to add softness as sides and place the plate in a setting that resonates with the authenticity of Italy. This is where you as a brand can share your product’s story depending on how you style your images. Make sure that everything that is in frame highlight the main character in your styling.


3. Serve a statement 

What we choose to serve on our plates does make a statement. Does your brand have standpoints when it comes to climate change? Is it okay to feature a steak when styling a dinner setting? Is your audience aware of what they eat so you should serve a lot of vegetables that are in season and that are locally produced? Hopefully, these choices will build on the positive image of your products.

Think of what kind of lifestyle your audience has. If you are a ceramic designer what do you want your creations to be associated with? Will placing a glass of wine next to our kettle in an autumn kitchen setting engage with our market?

There are a lot of factors that can be translated through the styling of a table and what is served with the products. Collaborations between designers, food enthusiasts, and stylists can help build interesting stories around the product. A story that will replay itself in several kitchens this season when brands make new friends and products find new homes. Bon appetit!


Fast facts

  • The most popular food hashtag is #foodporn with more then 214 million posts connected to it. Other useful hashtags are #foodart, #foodie and #feedfeed.
  • Pizza and sushi are the most featured dishes on Instagram 2019.
  • 60 % of all instagram users encounter new products through the platform.
  • The most common angle for food photography is the flatlay, which gives you a good overview amf fun perspective.
  • Belove you can find two professionals when it comes to food styling and set design for kitchenware. Click on to their accounts and prepare to be inspired.



Nina Olsson is a plant-based chef and author of the best selling cookbook “Bowls of Goodness”. She regularly contributes to food and travel magazines and creates recipes for books and clients. Nina is an award-winning creative and photographer, developing content, and consulting for eco-conscious and plant based businesses. 



Signe Bay is a stylist, photographer and creative director and oftentimes described as a ‘visual storyteller’ and ‘atmosphere magician’. Her strong aesthetic sense has a certain Nordic feel to it—using both the warmth and the cold of the Scandinavian light to create atmospheres ranging from happiness and joy to a certain melancholy and reflection on life itself. 




Josefine is the Swedish design and fashion researcher at VOCAST. Besides working as a researcher she studies Design, Business and Technology in Copenhagen where she explores the interesting art of storytelling.


Our researchers have build an e-mail list and handpicked media, experts and profiles, with the most relevans within the gastronomy industry in Denmark, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium, Norway and Sweden. Nina and Signe from this blogpost can be found in the Swedish and Danish list of contacts.


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