It was towards the end of last summer, when I first saw the lapboards. It was early in the morning and I was scrolling through Instagram, they had been posted as a new item on @thewasteshed’s Instagram page. I thought they were old desktops and I immediately started thinking “what can we do with these??”. We’d been in lockdown for over 6 months at this point, with no end in sight. My mind was in a place of “is the world changing forever? Will people be able to go back to school? How do you formulate school-age memories during this time without school?” We had already started designing our Ever Learn Collection homeschool desks for kids and I knew that if school really went away, people were going to want a piece of it. And maybe I would want a piece of it too.
“Everett, you and mommy need to make a trip today”.
So off we headed to The Waste Shed. A brief note on @thewasteshed if you’re not familiar: they’re a nonprofit thrift store, they’re awesome and they help a lot of people. You should check them out. I showed up 15 minutes before they opened and stood there on line with Ev, convincing myself the entire time that everyone else there wanted the boards too. It was super-hot but it didn’t matter because with what was happening around us in the world, I knew we had to get our hands on these and make them into something really, really special. When I got inside, I told them I wanted the boards and I was going to buy them all if they would let me, and they DID. They told me that what I had thought were desktops were lapboards that had been used in Chicago Public Schools since the late 1960s through to the early 2000s.
I immediately started talking about what to do with them. Since these were lapboards and not desktops, it was Jamie’s idea to inlay them into walnut then we designed the base to look like a TV tray base. I wanted something that you could use at the couch if you’re working in front of your tv. Something beautiful that could stand on its own while also being functional. A table that can go in any room of your home and be used in any way that you need.
Ever is not just kids furniture: we build classic and timeless heirloom pieces that can be shared from generation to generation. But this is the first piece we’ve ever built that already has the history built in. So many generations of students have used these boards: been inspired around them, written ideas upon them, scribbled their hopes and dreams atop them - all the while, leaving hieroglyphs of themselves and their memories behind, carved into the wood forever. Each one is truly unique as a fingerprint.
So when it came time to naming such an important product, I knew it had to be special and I knew we had to honor school and those moments. I decided to call it The Bueller Table because for me, those John Hughes movies and our creation perfectly capture the essence of the high school experience and that special time of community. And with this product born in a time when community had been ripped away from all of us, it felt more important now than ever to preserve that. Especially in a world where school was taken away from kids and all these amazing moments were being missed. It’s not just the big moments like proms and graduations, but all those other intangibles: the way you’d get to class 10 minutes early to see your crush and how your heart would skip a beat when you saw them; that feeling of having a wonderful teacher who exposed you to a brand new book that changed your life forever (Catcher in the Rye, anyone?); the way it felt to climb higher on the ropes course or to swim faster because an awesome Coach pushed you to… all gone this past year. All of that creates memories and shapes experiences.
The top of the table itself represents community – all the students, the teachers, the moments and memories held within. It’s a physical representation of that community and the village it takes to raise us all. It’s been inlaid into a piece that represents our connection to technology. It’s the comfort of collaboration and community married with our relationship to technology; the old with the new.
Use it decoratively or use it as I intend to: all the time, while you’re Ever learning, working and playing.
It’s…. The Bueller Side Table.