Legend--er, “history”--has it that Thomas Jefferson designed the first Lazy Susan when his daughter complained about being served last. But dumbwaiters, as they were originally called, only really became a fixture in American homes when a 1917 issue of Vanity Fair ran an ad for the Lazy Susan.
Maybe because of its weirdly gendered name, or maybe because of its frequent cameos in suburban tract homes, the Lazy Susan fell out of style at some point during Reagan’s presidency. So, as part of their annual Handmade issue, Wallpaper* Magazine invited Rockwell Group to reimagine Susan for 2012. "Rockwell Group has always been interested in the social act of dining and had been exploring the idea of updating the Lazy Susan for a while," explains principal Barry Richards. "We wanted to modernize this idea and celebrate American craftsmanship in the process."
Richards compares Sliding Sue to a small double-decker highway, which allows diners to pass dishes and condiments along a sliding center line. Since few of us have room for a massive circular dinner table, the likes of which necessitated the original Susan, the Rockwell team applied the concept to a smaller, rectangular dinner table. "Rather than the typical round food server that rotates around a single point, the linear design of Sliding Sue serves as an interactive, three-dimensional table runner," he explains. A loose panel slides along a trough cut into the center of the table, giving diners easy access to Sriracha and salt. "An array of interchangeable pieces allows for different kinds of containers to fit into the table, from wine bottles to spice jars to bakeware," he adds. Other details, like cherrywood fitted with metal hinges, and a soapstone slab, give Sliding Sue a look that he calls "Industrial meets Shaker." According to Richards, the prototype took about four weeks to build.
And of course, they’ve renamed it Sliding Sue, which I guess is marginally better than Lazy Susan. A few of Wallpaper*’s other handmade commissions this year include a foldable tote from Irma Boom, and elegant Guerlain cosmetics cases--check ‘em out here.