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The Perfect Modern Picnic Basket
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The Context: Driven by a desire for more thoughtful and functional tools in my kitchen, 5 years ago I began making a series of handmade wooden objects. An important requirement for each design is that they be something I can use day in and day out, be easily cleaned and maintained, will get better with age, and will not wear out before I do. Every year I’ve produce a small batch of the newest objects to give as gifts. The series is gaining excitement as people build their collection and incorporate them into their daily practice.
The Object: The latest object in the series was designed with the Workshop Residence in mind. Drawing from the nostalgia we share as a modern culture for the pleasurable act of dining outdoors, or “en plein air”, it was inspired by the iconic centerpiece of a picnic. I’m proposing to develop the perfect modern day “picnic basket”. The goal is to develop the object into something extremely functional, simple in construction, modern, and beautiful, in an effort to make the act of picnicking common-practice rather than rare-occasion.
Unlike most picnic baskets made with woven material, the Picnic Box (as we shall call it for now) will be made to use often and last generations. It will be built from thinly milled Maple slats, joined together with traditional joinery (box joints, rabbit joints, and dovetails are all possibilities), and sealed with food safe mineral oil. With the current overall dimensions at 15” long, 12” wide, and 8” high, it can easily hold a bottle of wine, bottle of sparkling water, and enough food for 4. I’d like to refine the size to ensure it feels compact and lightweight, without skimping on capacity. Proportion is key; small on the outside and spacious on the inside.
As far as function, it packs a lot. The box lid and bottom slide and lift out to perform as cutting boards and serving surfaces. The box, when laid on it’s side, serves as an elevated level surface to place wine glasses, candles, books, or a game of cards. The bottom edges will have discretely milled slots to provide a convenient place to securely attach the necessary blanket. The box will have two solid and sturdy wood handles that fit comfortably in the hand and pivot neatly out of the way.
The boxes can initially be prototyped and produced by me by hand in the workshop if there is a planer, table saw, router, and drill press provided. Eventually they can be made nearly entirely on CNC router if that proves to be more cost effective for ongoing production. I’m open to producing large (as the plywood prototype pictured) and small versions of the Picnic Box.
*Please note Image List and CV are included as jpgs.