With fifteen students, ten weeks, and a $1,500 budget, my final senior studio designed and produced everything necessary for a feast for sixty people. We made Shaker-inspired tables and benches, hanging lights, ceramic plates and cups, glass water vessels, teapots, wooden utensils, apron-like napkins, candle-holders, and much more. Although the design process was collaborative and the production shared, we each specialized in overseeing one component; I was in charge of the serving trays. Limited by money, space, and resources, I designed a series of four trays, each focused on celebrating a different method of woodworking. The steam-bent basket, stadium-shaped CNC-ed tray, rectangular double-rabbet box, and hand-gouged fish plates were different in technique, but shared shapes, proportions, and woods united the various trays.

Creating a cohesive style with so many designers was of course a challenge, but we debated and selected four key words to guide the overall mood as well as the individual designs. The color scheme grew more naturally, as did the form typology. Our four key words were:


These words were chosen in part to create a cozy and welcoming atmosphere for our guests -- who would be strangers and out of their element -- and part to bring a more fun and dynamic element, which would be refreshing for the attendees who were also at the previous year's feast (an elegant and sophisticated affair, which you can see here).

We attempted to create elements of surprise and interaction in order to loosen up our guests and encourage conversation. Wine bottles hung above a snack trough, creating an informal way to scoop up the snack mix and fill your companion's glass. The candles were unlit at the tables, and one guest in each group was given a box of matches; lighting the candles brought a warmth and intimacy to the center of the table. Traditional white napkins were replaced by thick muslin aprons, which tied around the guests' waists to combat any sense of formality

I designed four serving trays, and produced 8 of each design. Because of the limited budget and access to facilities, I decided to produce all of the trays out of wood, using a different technique for each. In order to keep the disparate construction methods cohesive, I established a few base geometries, dimensions, woods, and shapes, each of the trays had at least two of these in common with the others.

The CNC-ed stadium tray, the base of the steam-bent basket, and the sides and base of the double-rabbet box are made of donated white oak, which required some creativity in dodging knots, live edges, and mold. Ash forms the sides of the steam-bent basket, and the gouged tray is pine.