Extra-large surfaces play a helping hand during the holidays, when we find ourselves with a limited guest list and new rules for distancing at the dinner table. The mise-en-place for the warmest holidays during the coldest month of the year are a bit different then we might expect, with spacing between diners more akin to a breakfast with Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip than our own family or friends, sitting on the extreme ends of a long table. In fact, according to the English tradition, the host is to sit at the head of the table, while the French place them along the longer ends. Today, in our own homes, those who are entrusted with preparing dinner can often be found in the kitchen, running to and from the table. Together, yes, but at a distance. 2020 is the year of social distancing, and it’s important to respect the rules — even during the festivities. With this, interior design looks to provide a response to the question, how can we be together and keep our distance?
While there is no precise modern etiquette, bon ton (also in reference to good behavior at the table) has its origins in the 16th century with Giovanni Della Casa. When the Tuscan Monsignor published his book Galateo: The Rules of Polite Behavior (1558), it was a sort of small revolution: there are rules, and we should respect them. Della Casa’s prized writings unravel between good practices, dressing habits, and even table etiquette.
Among the numerous behaviors to recall while eating (don’t scratch yourself, don’t bite off too much, don’t clean your teeth with the napkin…) there is one that might be considered sacred today: respect the space between one another. During the holidays then, we pretend as if we were eating in the 16th century (without eating from the same plate), sitting around an extra-large table for a distanced design dinner.
The Fusto table by Marialaura Rossiello Irvine for forma&cemento recalls the features of classic architecture, transposing them in a contemporary key to enrich the beauty and sensuality of any environment. The focal point of its design remains in the legs, a clear reference to Greek-inspired columns. With this, volumes and proportions realize a timeless geometry and the home becomes a work of art.
“Blitz is more than just a table, it was a bolt of lightning that passed from my mind to my hands and through the pencil on to the paper,” says designer Mario Bellini, who created this piece for B&B Italia. Made of bamboo wood with prized inserts in solid wood, the sculptural table is incredibly unique — produced as a limited edition, only 100 models were made. All eyes are focused on the legs, which flaunt an unexpected beauty.
The D.859.1 table by Gio Ponti for Molteni is a classic, imposing, statuary, and harmonic piece. The rigorous and extended geometry of the top opens a pleasant contrast through round curves, transforming the table into a soft architecture. The legs resemble points of a compass ready to trace the most artistic lines in the house. This is what it means to live with a piece by Gio Ponti.
The Fourmore table by Gordon Giullaumier for Desalto represents a design challenge combining both aesthetics and efficiency. In a geometric balance of forms with a simple and mechanical gesture, the piece welcomes more people when opened entirely, becoming spacious and enriching any atmosphere with an unexpected and surprising volume. Social distancing is no longer a problem.
The Tense Material Diamond table by MDF Italia is “a smart beauty, resulting from a thought and a know-how capable of transmitting a deep emotion through a wise accentuation of the peculiarities of the materials used,” explain its two designers Piergiorgio and Michele Cazzaniga. At home, the table assumes an important aesthetic function, inspired by the ancient technique of Chinese lacquer, and in a play of shadows, the top gives space and welcome to those in the living or dining room at a distance.
The Campo d'Oro table by Paolo Palluccio and Mireille Rivier for De Padova vaunts a statuary dimension and almost seems to rise up with the rigor of a geometry studied to interpret various living needs. When closed, it takes the shape of a square and when elongated, it becomes trapezoidal in form, guaranteeing the right distance between diners around the table. With the ability to adapt to any environment depending on the necessary dimensions, this piece transforms into a flexible and mutating element as a symbol of sharing.