Mensa academica is Latin for ‘midday university meal’, making mensa a popular word across German-speaking countries denoting university canteens and cafeterias. Mensa tables need to be above all sturdy, light and functional, although today’s designers and manufacturers pay due attention to matters of aesthetics as well. Mensa tables range from small, tall counters, to larger dining tables that can accommodate larger groups of diners.
Jorge Pensi’s ‘Splash Table’ for Amat-3 is a small round mensa table for up to three people, with a slender, central aluminium leg and a 5-star base. Casala’s ‘Centre 6220/80’ is a square table resting on an altogether more robust middle column, and features a round, metal floor plate. Another square mensa table, ‘Emeco SU Cafe table’, designed for emeco by the world-renowned Nendo, has a light-grey Trespa top and four, slanting anodized aluminium legs. Erik Munnikhof’s ‘Wishbone 6620/17’ for Casala is a larger square table that comprises a modular extension system, in which 24 different leg and tabletop variations are possible.
There are also rectangular mensa tables, such as Ercol’s ‘Originals plank table’ whose tapering, slanted legs and rounded corners recall the classic elegance of 1950s. Jørgen Beakmark’s ‘C44 table’, designed in 1963 and now manufactured by Hay, is a typically reliable, pared-down Scandinavian design, made from wood and featuring a practical, reversible melamine tabletop, black on one side and white on the other. Bedont’s ‘Int. table’, designed by Steffen Kaz and Catharina Lorenz is available in beech or oak, and also takes on elegant midcentury forms, although it was launched in 2004.
ONDARETTA’s solid wood ‘Bob Table’ is available in lengths from 120 to 200 cm, making it possible to furnish a large dining hall with one basic mensa table variety. Susanne Grønlund’s ‘Easy table’ for Fredericia Furniture is a multifunctional mensa table with a steel base, and can double as desk. HOWE’s ‘Usu table’ is another folding design, that incorporates chair hangers underneath its top for easy floor cleaning. Lastly, Joel Karlsson’s ‘Shadow table’ for Mitab is another versatile design with a span of up to 240 cm.