In the refectory of the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan, there exists a dining table of singular historical significance. Nearly 25 feet in length, with wood trestle legs half obscured by a crisp white tablecloth, its utilitarian design would not look out of place in a family-style Italian restaurant. However, due largely to the fact that the table’s occupants happen to be Jesus and 12 highly animated disciples, its finer points are easily overlooked.
In Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper, the expansive table is intended as a framing device for the drama being acted out around it. Yet, more than 500 years after Leonardo tagged that somber dining-hall wall with his masterpiece, its 15th-century furnishings remain familiar: Most of us can recall meals shared around a similar table, in a staid room reserved solely for important repasts and repartee.
But, much like the coffee table before it, the dining table appellation is sounding increasingly dated. Open-plan live/work spaces, on-the-go lifestyles, and even the re-emergence of poker night from its banishment to the basement have altered this formerly formal piece of furniture’s use. With this in mind, we asked multidisciplin- ary designer Rich Hansen to dish on which of these five tables he deems suitable for more than just supper.