Dezeen Magazine

Decorative objects from In the Centre of the Table by Joel Escalona and students from CENTRO university

Mexican design students fill tables with marble platters and wooden dinosaurs

In the Centre of the Table is a collection of practical and decorative objects including marble and wood serving plates and wooden dinosaurs made by students from Mexico's CENTRO University.

The students created the collection under the guidance of Mexican designer Joel Escalona.

A selection of the objects comprised in In the Centre of the Table by Joel Escalona and his students
Tableware designed by Escalona's students

Escalona used the project to give the students the experience of the whole design process, from having an initial idea to the production and selling of an object.

"In the Centre of the Table is a simple exercise," Escalona told Dezeen.

"The students have to work together to get an aesthetic language, colour and material palette, then produce, promote and sell the complete collection within one semester."

The marble serving plates made by Escalona's students contrast with other wooden objects
A marble and wood serving plate offering a pile of tortillas

A group of 17 students designed and made 10 decorative objects each. Their task, set by Escalona, was to create objects that could sit in the centre of a Mexican dining table. The collection was presented and sold at Design Week Mexico 2019.

The objects range from oak trays filled with fruit and vegetables to candle holders that add warmth to the table on which they are displayed.

Wooden candle holders made by Escalona's students
Candle holders give the table a warm glow

Handmade mirrors and vases filled with flowers decorate the table, while the marble serving plates contrast with the small wooden dinosaurs designed to give a quirky touch to the collection.

Escalona explained his intentions for how the project should visually communicate.

"For a long time, I had had the idea of creating a Mexican still life scene, so this was the perfect time to do it, not only with the products but also with the photos to promote the complete collection."

Decorative wooden dinosaurs
Small wooden dinosaurs are an endearing addition to the scene

The students' collection comprises objects which intend to bring people together and invoke ideas of community through their appearance and materials.

The designer was clear on the importance of involving his students in every step of the design process.

"Every time I work with students, I try to teach them the process I use in my own studio. In this case, not only to make a pretty object but rather to think like a business person in order to find a way to sell your ideas and projects better," explained Escalona.

Wooden serving bowls with fruit in them
Carefully crafted wooden bowls hold bright coloured fruit

With In the Centre of the Table, Escalona sought to introduce his students to critical aspects of working in the design industry that extend beyond the skills students acquire in a university classroom.

"Sometimes these projects look kind of simple. However, imagine organising a dozen students in one direction and talking about money with them. Buying all their materials, painting, packaging, taking pictures, etc. It's something every design student has to do at least once while they are studying," he said.

Other recent tableware designs include The New Normal, a conceptual collection intended for dining during the coronavirus pandemic, and a textured glassware collection crafted from Venetian Murano glass and recycled metal threads.

Joel Escalona is a Mexican designer who runs his own studio, as well as furniture companies nono and BREUER. Escalona also teaches design students at CENTRO University and Tecnológico de Monterrey.

Photography is by Mariana Achach.

More images

A selection of objects designed and made by Escalona's students
A selection of objects designed and made by Escalona's students
Wooden mirrors
Wooden serving platters with fruit and vegetables atop
A wooden and marble platter with cake on top
Elegant flower vases
Bowls in the centre of the Mexican table
A wooden bowl by Escalona's students
Black plant pots
A square shaped bowl with fruit in it