Channeling the ethos of the legendary Dieter Rams, designer Jared Spool said, “Good design, when it’s done well, becomes invisible,” and though he is primarily concerned with the digital aspect as a UX engineer and expert, the maxim can certainly be expanded, in a sense, to the realm of furniture.
It’s not that there’s anything “invisible” on the BDDW Ping Pong Table—to the contrary, the piece commands quite a presence when situated in a place of honor—but the luxury it exudes can better be tied to its overall composure, rather than a set of bells or whistles to point a finger at. Of course, that ties in to founder Tyler Hays’ underlying philosophy in making exquisitely crafted American furniture, which in itself doesn’t come across as an overt strategy. To learn more about his background of moving to NYC to become an artist, working construction to make ends meet, and then navigating himself into his current niche of ultra high-end wood furnishings, basically as a result of being broke but obviously talented and resourceful, one comes to appreciate his values of utility and precise craftsmanship.
Fast-forward to his latest collection, which includes the Ping Pong Table, solely because Hays decided he wanted a ping pong table. To him ping pong is just an “awesome sport” but he points out, “No one thinks they have room for a ping pong table until you have one that’s pretty enough to double as a dining table.”
The dual function (personally employed by Hays in his own home) contributes to the validity of the $13,500 price, which only increases what Hays described as some pretty “epic” custom variations. Again, he’s not necessarily talking about added flash, but rather different construction iterations that allow for something lighter or more flexible, depending on a person’s needs or desires. The “standard” version, if it can be called that, was intended to look and feel sporty in its slightly lighter construction, rather than act as some densely luxurious behemoth in a dark, old billiards room.
In classic BDDW style, the table blend varieties of domestically sourced, naturally finished, fine solid wood—the top is Cherry, with Maple legs that Hays covered in white milk paint. Stretched across the center is a hole-punched leather net in a patina-stroked chestnut leather net, which can presumably be removed at whim for meals or card games. With the table comes a set of equally precious paddles made from Walnut, Holly, Osage Orange and a variety of other woods sourced here in the US, packed away in matching leather cases.
The whole painstaking process to bring these seemingly simple setups to life is about 16 weeks, at which point the masterful end result is a rare and wonderful thing: a ping pong table sexy enough to live in the more sophisticated parts of your home—something, Hays says, you “just don’t see.”
Images courtesy of BDDW