You Need These Beautiful—and Unscented!—Candles on Your Dinner Table Right Now

updated Mar 3, 2020
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I’ve written on how to smell candles properly and how to burn them properly—so it’s only fitting that I bring you my latest hot take on the candle industry: Sculptural, bold colored unscented candles are having a moment. At Shoppe Object, a design trade show for home decor buyers and press, they’re kind of all I saw. And let’s just say I’m a fan. First, everybody needs an unscented option or two to burn during meals. A big pet peeve of mine, even as a scent lover, is tasting what candle is burning at a dinner party.

But also, from a design perspective, so many unscented candles are just white wax—kind of basic and blah. So it’s nice to see function and form marrying these days, especially for people who are super sensitive to smell and haven’t had many design-friendly options in the past. Why not buy a candle that makes a tiny sculptural statement? The only question is whether or not to burn something so beautiful. I’m leaning towards yes. I mean, you only live once, right?

Where to use these guys? Anywhere and everywhere, really. Bright hued or striped tapers like the ones seen above can set off a special candelabra in a dining room—I’m currently using hot pink ones in my old brass Crate & Barrel three-candle taper holder. You can also perk up a mantel display by adding colored pillar or votive candles to the mix. Some of these styles would also add a pop of fun to just about any tableau where you’d use a candle in a vessel, from the coffee table to a nightstand or bathroom counter. But know you’ll need some kind of holder or dish underneath the more sculptural varieties, if you want to safely burn them. Ready to stock your candle closet with the latest and the greatest? Here are my picks. 

Ombre Taper Candle Set

Elevate the look of your next dinner party with this set of ombré tapers. Their funky, multicolored vibe works well with mismatched candlestick holders.

Buy: Ombre Taper Candle Set, $12.00/Set of 4 from Urban Outfitters

Credit: Shopbop

Goober Candle

Can’t handle scented candles? Then this little blob-shaped guy is for you. One would bring a playful touch of color and whimsy—plus, a warm glow when lit— to your nightstand.

Buy: Areaware Goober Candle, $24.00 $16.80 from Shopbop

Credit: The Floral Society

Fancy Taper Candles 

They didn’t make taper candles like this in colonial times—at least, I don’t think they did. Point is: I love when a company takes something old-school and makes it fresh with a modern color palette and a smart design, as The Floral Society has done here with this twisted set of extra long tapers.

Buy: Fancy Taper Candles, $37.00 for a pair of 18-inch candles from The Floral Society 

Pillar Candles

Dutch designer Lex Pott created these stacked pillar candles for Hay in a variety of colors, sizes, and shapes. They’re almost too pretty to burn, but just think of how the colors will run together when you do.

Buy: Pillar Candles, Starting at $45 from MoMA Design Store 

Credit: Coming Soon

Twist Candle

Forget the fancy candelabra you’ve had your eye on. All you need is a heatproof tray to set these striking U-shaped candles on. Your guests won’t have seen a cooler centerpiece.

Buy: Twist Candle, $35 from Coming Soon NY

Credit: Etsy

Hand Gesture Candle 

Is it a “V” for victory or a peace sign? Either way, this hand shaped candle is throwing some major positive vibes. Choose from five different colorways and a few other hand gesture varieties, if this one isn’t speaking to you.

Buy: Peace Hand Gesture Candle, $44.78 at Etsy

Credit: Vapor 95

La Croy Candle

Yes, this is a La Croix candle. Never mind the misspelling, it’s still epic—and the perfect gag (or serious) gift for the seltzer fanatic in your life.

Buy: La Croy Candle, $25.00 from Vapor 95

Pillar Shaped Candles 

If you want a similar look to the Hay candles but don’t want to spend as much, these geometric Illume candles are a nice budget substitute. Buy a few and cluster them together for a pretty display.

Buy: Illume Pillar Shaped Candles, Starting at $6 for the Small from Urban Outfitters