Product Spotlight: The Zafal Dining Table
Hi everyone! Today I want to give a peek behind the scenes at the story of the Zafal table. Specifically, what it means to me, how it’s design related to the human desires stoked by the pandemic, and how our personal experience of the pandemic ended up dovetailing with what we wanted the Zafal to become and represent. What began as a normal design ended up becoming a piece that we made to leave the pandemic behind and turn over a new page.
For a couple years now we’ve been looking at softness, rounded edges, chunkiness, which culturally aligned with the wave of campiness in visual culture. The previous minimalist wave was replaced with a campy maximalism, which was most apparent in fashion, but we saw that wave inspire home goods, ceramics, and the furniture world. Minimal white backgrounds, sleek, simple forms, were replaced with bright colors, squiggles, and loud patterns on wobbly forms.
Though the pandemic began long after this campy maximalist wave took off, the pandemic was a moment when people looked to their homes for comfort and safety, which aligned with the emphasis on thick softness, rounded edges, and the warm, inviting nature they generated. This persisted through 2020 as people invested in their homes the atmosphere in which they spent so much time.
As 2020 melted into 2021, a shift occurred with the launch of vaccines and the turning of spring. It began to feel like the pandemic fade, and my own mindset was very much: “I’m ready for this to be over.” As summer turned, there was an explosion of life, culture, and people leaving their shells. I felt this along with a strong desire leave the past year behind. This became true of what I wanted in visual culture, too: I wanted to leave behind norms, trends, and turn over a new page there too. But how? What do I wear in public after a year of sitting inside?
I felt the raw exhilaration of the late spring into early summer, but I remember looking around: why doesn’t visual culture around us respond to this urge to start over new? There was a strong sense that people wanted to look to the future, but I wasn’t seeing it manifested in design.
As our team entered its usual brainstorming phase mid-pandemic, one of the sketches ended up being the beginnings of just that - a base with sharp, acute angles. It was different from the rounded, chunky norms of the time, and in fact we tried at first to merge the base with those exact concepts - to make it feel soft and round, in line with the mid-pandemic desire for comfort and safety. But as time went on, as the pandemic dragged and we grew tired, it eventually moved in a different direction. We scrapped the softer details and leaned into the sharpness, adding honed edges and a tabletop that mirrored those same angles on the base. Slowly, it came to represent a response to that safe, coziness I wanted in the pandemic; something edged and bold, something to help turn over a new page. Of course, we’re still dealing with the supply chain and shipping issues catalyzed by the pandemic, so it’s been a hell of a time trying to get it launched, but here it is: the table that, for me, came to represent my own hopes of starting fresh.Images by Candida Wohlgemuth.