TV dinner trays
Hands up; who still eats dinner at the dining room table? Having a conversation while you eat is so last century. Designers are responding to the fact that more people are eating while watching television by creating tray tables that range from whimsical to retro. United States retailers such as Crate and Barrel and Target, as well as individual designers, are jumping on the bandwagon.
TV Tray Source (tvtraysource.com) stocks trays made of antique walnut or faux leather and has versions with delightful nautical scenes, just in case you should tire of what's on the screen. For more quaint versions, have a look at Kitchen Kapers (kitchenkapers.com), whose Pimpernel Up the Garden Path design is inspired by the popular British children's book by Laura Stoddard. The item is made of melamine (used properly) and is printed with flowers.
Crate and Barrel (crateandbarrel.com) has some Asian-inspired trays, made from woven cane and split sugarcane.
New York-based artist Lorena Barrezueta (lorenabarrezueta.com; shipping enquiries can be made through the website) has created the Munch Deluxe tray. In tomato or turquoise, the trays are made of fine porcelain but look like crumpled foil.
For those nights when Prison Break is on, David Weeks, a New York designer, based his shiny red melamine tray (above) on one used by prisoners at the notorious Sing Sing penitentiary in New York State. Enquiries about the product's availability can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Functional coffee table (left) from BoConcept (boconcept.com) features a low table that has separate panels that can be raised to a more comfortable height for eating. Simply Tray Tables (simplytraytables.com) has several themes, among them Tuscan countryside scenes, gardens, sporting motifs and rustic kitchens.
Stacks and Stacks (stacksandstacks.com) offers trays decorated with nature and beach scenes, while at Uncommon Goods (uncommongoods.com), it's all about retro - the plastic trays are adorned with prints of trains and rodeos.
Of course, what would be really retro is to get back to the dining table and start a conversation.