The brief for the 2016 Mercedes-Benz Design Award by Broadsheet called for a design that enhanced the outdoor dining experience. Winning entrant Nancy Ji took a personal approach to the task: she wanted to create a piece she could use in her own – very small – apartment. “I tried to think about an object I could actually use,” says Ji. “What is it about dining that has something missing, that could be enhanced?”

Ji conjured the Lily Tray Table – a compact, versatile stacked-tray table, suitable for both indoor and outdoor use. “It’s an alternative to the full formal outdoor dining set,” she says. “All you need is a spot for your snacks and drinks.”

Gordon Tait, director at outdoor furniture makers Tait, and a judge of the award, says Ji’s design was a sophisticated addition to any outdoor setting. “It’s a product that years ago would have perhaps only been considered for interior application,” says Gordon. “So it’s fantastic to see our outdoor spaces receiving such attention.”

Ji’s prize was to have her design manufactured and added to the Tait range. Gordon and Susan Tait, his wife and creative director of the business, collaborated closely with Ji to bring her table to market, and the final product is tribute to this partnership.

Ji’s unique lily-pad design is a defining feature of the table, with its clean, undulating lines paying homage to the natural world. Made from lightweight aluminium, the table’s removable tray can be carried from the kitchen to the entertaining area, while two notches in the tray’s lip allow rainwater to drain out. A UV-stable powder-coat finish has been added to protect the tray table from harsh Australian sunlight, coastal air and chlorine contact.

Sitting below the tray is a second stainless-steel shelf, designed to hold ice buckets, decanters and bottles. Three fine tubular legs, also made from stainless steel, carry the piece. Two sizes are available, a Coffee Table and Side Table, in a monochrome palette of textured white or black. The larger Coffee Table (600Dia x 400H) will retail for $890, the smaller Side table (400Dia x 550H) for $760.

Gordon Tait says Ji’s table is a welcome addition to the Tait range. “It works with our passion, to enhance outdoor living with exceptional design,” he says. “Something not just original and considered, but novel and innovative.”

The Lily Tray Table is available at Tait showrooms and online from March 10. The first 25 produced will feature a limited-edition plaque commemorating the Mercedes Benz Design Award by Broadsheet.

Update: The Lily Tray Table is now available to purchase from Tait showrooms and online

This article presented in partnership with the Mercedes-Benz Design Award by Broadsheet.