outline tray nendo

Most people who have a desk also have lots of stuff on that desk: pencils, paper clips, rubber bands, and other random officey stuff. Traditionally, putting all of that little stuff in trays on your desk has been a great way to keep it all corralled. But how often do you actually pick up those trays to move them?

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The designers at Tokyo-based design firm Nendo thought about the desk tray design and realized that there wasn’t a great reason for it to have a bottom. Its function is to keep things together and stop them from going wild across your desk, but they just sit there. In response to this epiphany, these extremely creative thinkers designed the Outline Tray.

outline tray nendo office supplies

The Outline Tray is exactly as it sounds: just the borders of a tray with no bottom. It still performs exactly the same function, but with less material. The three different sizes of trays can be arranged atop a desk just like art frames, or even nested within each other for a unique storage setup.

Beyond just the aesthetic (and novelty) qualities of the bottomless trays, there are some very practical aspects of the Outline series. When dirt inevitably gets trapped in the corners, all you have to do is lift up the tray – no digging into that impossible-to-clean spot where the corners meet the bottom. Maybe more importantly, picking up thumbtacks no longer has to involve stabbing your fingers by reaching into the pile – just pick up the tray and carefully pick one up from the side of the pile.

outline tray nendo modular

We don’t usually pick up trays full of pens and paperclips and walk around with them, so why do their containers need bottoms? We realised that it’s actually enough to separate things by type, so these desktop trays for filing small objects are frames rather than containers. The frame form makes it easier to clean inside the tray, and they stand out less visually as well. When not in use, the trays can be stacked for compact storage.”