I designed the original prototype of this tray table for my ancient father, artist and craftsman Frank Litto, bedridden and frail at 97. It seemed a cruel irony that a man whose entire career focused on aesthetic pursuits should have to spend the final stage of his life surrounded by the horrible plastic and metal contraptions provided by Medicare. So I set about creating an alternative to be used for most of his daily activities – eating, writing, drawing, reading – which would comfortably support his forearms and feel good to his arthritic hands. It had to be lightweight too, so the aides could easily lift it, and have enough of a rim to contain most of a modest spill. The result is decidedly in the Danish-modern idiom, with flowing lines and blended joinery. The construction included veneering, strip laminating, mortise and tenon joinery, and a great many specialized fixtures to fabricate and assemble the 23 individual pieces. During the design phase, a slip of unusually large sheets of pomelle sapele veneer became available, allowing me to cover the entire 20” x 30” top with a single piece. The veneer’s extraordinary chatoyance is enhanced by a 12 coat hand-rubbed urethane varnish, cut back after each coat with progressively finer grits to produce the smooth, lustrous, scratch-resistant and waterproof surface. The underside is a wood-on-wood maple veneer with thin walnut strips; a version of teak-and-holly decking often used on mahogany runabouts and wooden sailboats – hence the name “Tray Table: Nautical Version”.