How I Gather

Bringing people together around a table is our greatest passion in life and we believe food is one of the most powerful tools for connection. In our series, How I Gather we go behind the scenes with our favorite foodies to answer that question.  See All

Today we’re kicking off an all-new series on – one I’ve been dreaming up for awhile, and I couldn’t be more excited to see it finally become a reality. There’s nothing I love more than sneaking a glimpse into the lives of inspiring, creative people…and with this series, we get to uncover the little entertaining secrets that make their soirées ooze style and personality. I can’t imagine a more fitting subject to kickoff our first post than Austin-based design-duo Jennifer Elsner & David Shields. Click through the images (shot by Chelsea Fullerton) for all the inspiring details!

Stepping into the Elsner-Shield’s airy, East Austin home instantly makes you want to kick back and settle in a while. Open and uncluttered, it’s filled with meaningful objects that hint at the cool-without-being-hipster taste of these Brooklyn transplants. When hosting get-togethers for friends, they keep things low-key, focusing on a few key details that are as perfectly executed as their modern, thoughtful design work. No matter the time of day, a cold bottle of Lilet, red or white, is always pulled out when guests arrive – putting everyone in an instantly celebratory state-of-mind.

Owners of Viewers Like You (a creative direction, brand development and graphic design agency), this couple’s flawless eye reveals itself in every aspect of their charming East Austin home, from the chic glassware on the countertop to the effortless way that Jennifer arranges a perfect cheese board.

“We discovered the Cricket Ball Apertif at The Red Cat in NYC years ago. It’s perfect: Lilet Rouge, demi-sec Champagne, bitters and lemon.” -Jennifer

Click here to get the recipe for Jennifer and David’s Cricket Ball Aperitif

“My standard hostess outfit? There’s nothing standard about an outfit choice. But when at home, even with guests, I go with pedicured bare feet.” -Jennifer

One place where this sympatico couple diverges is their approach to cookbooks. Jennifer believes recipes are to be used only as a guide, while David tends to follow them to the letter. Their impressive collection of modern classics includes several tomes by Mark Bittman and Marcella Hazan – their go-to sources for the perfect dinner party dishes.

Each year at the holidays, David designs, types and binds the previous year’s collection of “The Minimalist” columns by Mark Bittman for the New York Times, gifting them to Jennifer as one-of-a-kind cookbooks to add to their shelves.

The collection of colorful Mexican produce cans add vibrancy to an upper kitchen shelf.

Must-have entertaining tools: Topo Chicos and a tidy medicine cabinet. There’s always a big bunch of spinach in the fridge for daily green smoothies and juices.

“The restaurant meal I’ll never forget? Oh there are too, too many to recount. Most recently was a casual family lunch at Gjelina in Venice Beach. Tuscan Kale Salad and a perfectly baked Pomodoro Pizza paired perfectly with the pace of our SoCal holiday – and a bold Barolo.” -Jennifer

Jennifer & David’s perfect cheese plate:

  • Triple-Cream – Langres (France)
  • Sheep – Mona (Wisconsin)
  • Goat – Sainte Maure Pure Luck (Texas)
  • Iberian Ham
  • Marcona Almonds
  • Country Paté
  • Quince Paste
  • Baguette

Jennifer’s Party Playlist

Seven Angels On a Bicycle – Carrie Rodriguez
Free Until They Cut Me Down – Iron & Wine
Raphael – Carla Bruni
I’d Like to – Corinne Bailey Rae
Blues Music – G. Love & Special Sauce
Breakin’ Down – Ben Harper
I Don’t Wanna Know – Fleetwood Mac
The Look – Metronomy
You’re So Cool – True Romance Soundtrack
Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard – Paul Simon

Click here to listen to the entire mix online!

Dream guest list: “Six is my ideal count for a dinner party. There’s David and me, a couple we already adore and a new duo—to mix things up. If time and space weren’t an issue, Maira & Tibor Kalman would be that wild card. Since that’s not possible, maybe Ellen Degeneres & Portia DiRossi?”  -Jennifer

Head over to Go Forth Creative to view more of Chelsea’s work.

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Comments (24)
  1. 1
    Kelley Burrus May 29, 2012 at 10:32 am

    What a perfect couple to help kick-off the series. Bravo!

  2. 2
    delia May 29, 2012 at 10:41 am

    Love the cheese platter 🙂


    • Camille Styles May 29, 2012 at 10:08 pm

      And we all got to reap the benefits post-shoot – such a perfect combination! 🙂

  3. 3
    Ashley @ Any Lovely Thing May 29, 2012 at 12:53 pm

    Great new feature, Camille. I think I’m going to love this series!!


  4. 4
    Jennifer Hritz May 29, 2012 at 1:30 pm

    I’m pining for an invitation! Lovely.

  5. 5
    cindy May 29, 2012 at 4:20 pm

    Camille, Beautiful piece!
    Chelsea, photos are lovely.
    Jenn, I’m pining for an invite too!

    style all around!

  6. 6
    Debra Kapellakis May 31, 2012 at 11:26 am

    Great photo’s.

  7. 7
    Kendrick Shope May 31, 2012 at 2:54 pm

    LOVE this. Jennifer and David make the perfect couple to make this kick off sparkle. So excited to read more.

  8. 8
    Jenny Shih May 31, 2012 at 2:59 pm

    I love these images! I also love how Jennifer and David carefully select what belongs perfectly for the situation, from the right cheeses for the cheese plate to the cans in the kitchen. Classy, clean, and fresh.

  9. 9
    Nathalie Lussier May 31, 2012 at 3:09 pm

    Everything about this is breezy, inspiring, and totally chic. It makes me want to be a fly on the wall in their home, to see what other cool design influences take place on a daily basis.


  10. 10
    Jill Rowe May 31, 2012 at 3:28 pm

    Great series! Jennifer & David are the epitome of effortless cool! no matter if they live in BK or Austin ~ you want to be at their parties!

    Love the drink recipe ~ gonna have to try that one!

  11. 11
    Holli Thompson May 31, 2012 at 3:31 pm

    Wow, I’d love to go to their home for dinner and drinks anytime. They have style coming out of their pores:)
    Thanks for sharing this feast for the eyes!

  12. 12
    Jen May 31, 2012 at 3:37 pm

    Make me a cricket ball, I’m comin’ over!! Gorgeous home, slick pics, and a super-inspiring sneak peek into Jennifer + David’s love nest.

  13. 13
    Kristen May 31, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    LOVE this little peek into their lives — only wish my frig was so darn chic! 😉

  14. 14
    Michelle Martello May 31, 2012 at 3:57 pm

    Would love to see more pics and info from this couple! That drink looks amazing…
    Can you show more of their design work too?

  15. 15
    Briana Borten May 31, 2012 at 4:47 pm

    I want to be one of the surprise guest couples at their dinners! So much fun! Love the design of their life, would love to see their work!

  16. 16
    Katie Anderson May 31, 2012 at 8:50 pm

    What a fun feature! Can’t wait to see more.

  17. 17
    danielle May 31, 2012 at 11:34 pm

    I bet the invites to this party would be just as cool as that icy drink. Jennifer and David show such great style in the most simple things they design- whether a cheese platter or a high-end logo. Thank you for showcasing their work- I only wish they catered!

  18. 18
    Christa Meola June 1, 2012 at 5:27 pm

    Love the new feature Camille! I hope to see more from this cool and classy couple. Every detail oozes effortless style! Definitely want to be a guest at their table 🙂

  19. 19
    Gry June 3, 2012 at 1:07 pm

    Love this couple! awesome chic photos!

  20. 20
    Jenna Herbut June 3, 2012 at 2:55 pm

    What a gorgeous feature! I feel so inspired by Jennifer & David. Chic, stylish and elegant!

  21. 21
    Ashley Whittenberger | Interiority Complex June 6, 2012 at 9:59 pm

    I LOVED this and was thoroughly enjoying the post … until I saw the fridge shot. Then, I was like WTF?? Whose fridge really looks like that? I mean, I WANT mine to look like that and I’m generally neat and clean and we always have lots of Topo Chico and spinach… but our fridge definitely doesn’t look like that! 😉