When it comes to holiday gatherings, we can’t help but think of Monicelli and his Parenti Serpenti, a 1992 film exploring all the clichés of Christmas. In one scene, together at dinner elbow to elbow, each family member is forced to endure the annual routine. Around the table are Grandpa Saverio and Grandma Triste — sitting, of course, facing each other at the heads of the table — while the kids and guests distractedly eat spaghetti with tuna, entertaining banal discussions like “everything wonderful in life is either illegal, immoral, or makes you fat”. Conversation continues and veers through the typical discourse of world hunger and Italian democracy echoing through a TV tuned to the RAI channel. Given the bitter tone of the film, we have to admit that the table would take on a more truthful tone if the entire family didn’t have to be (physically) so close.
In the hopes that none of us have our own “parenti serpenti”, this year we found out that not all distances are so bad. The holiday table, it seems, is best when embracing a geometric design to maintain the distances between diners. Glasses are recognizable and uniquely identified for every guest and dishes are divided to keep contact at a minimum. Here, distance is no longer a problem, but a factor to respect, thanks in part to a geometric mise-en-place.
Th Quaderna 2006 table by Superstudio for Zanotta vaunts a honeycomb wood structure plated with a laminated print presenting black lined squares. It’s the squares that inspire the name of this piece, which since 1970, has decorated homes with a transversal and carefree attitude from the bedroom to the kitchen. And how much easier could it be in a time like this, counting the squares to respect social distances?
The Croatian studio Boir has designed a collection under the name New Normal, including a conceptual series of tableware respecting the norms of social distancing. The objects are small and elegant sculptures made mostly in stone and steel, allowing diners to share food from a safe distance. Within the collection is a bread basket (pictured), long-handled spoons, a tray for sushi and a prosciutto rack. Intimacy and distance go hand in hand with design of the new normal.
Everyone at the table should have their own glass, of course, but with the latest from Ichendorf, each guest can transform drinking into a personalized act. These pieces from Alessandra Baldareschi, beginning with the Fantasia collection, are perfect to personalize the table and its diners. Here, social distancing becomes a form of respect for each other in the name of imagination and transparency (of water).
The Siena collection by Artek vaunts a geometric motif that’s great for establishing social distances at the table. Between paper napkins — especially useful this year to avoid contact — trays and placemats, design from Artek moves across surfaces, ready to distance without separating. Once more, eating becomes a precious moment to share, without risking our health.