Trays present an alluring design opportunity. They sit like framed art on horizontal surfaces with their hardware and their cool surface space. More straightforward than a box, a bit like a mirror, smaller but not necessarily simpler than a table: a unique canvas to showcase handwork and materials, finishes and combinations within a very functional form. The Lagoon Tray, a new tray in the collection, exemplifies the uniqueness and sophistication that can be achieved with trays.
First, dimensions. Available in two sizes, with the largest measuring 72 cm/28 ¼” long, it makes an impressive statement on even large coffee tables and consoles. The flowing coral-inspired cast bronze sides that open outwards elevate it to table art that works with light to create filigree-like shadows on the surface while the mottled bronze patina compliments the dark base.
The base 'ground' is natural black palmwood (Borassus flabellifer) and it creates an exotic ‘lagoon’ of line-flecked surface surrounded by the coral. This wood was revered by the master decorators of the early twentieth century; most notably André Groult and Eugène Printz. It is a formidable material to work with as it is not really a wood but belongs to the ‘monocot’ family that includes grasses, straw and bamboo. Only the outer section can be worked and very sharp tools are used to cut the palm before finishing can be done. We buy the wood as complete trees - and then gradually work them down to thin sheets.
Palmwood is a famously difficult material to work.
Eugène Printz black palmwood library circa 1935, photo from Sotheby's .
The Lagoon Tray is the first time Alexander has used black palmwood in his collection but the dark speckled wood has always been a favourite because of its unique grain and tones. Like its namesake lagoon, this beautifully layered statement piece is an oasis of calm and beauty.