Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Tray Bien Review

A review of the Tray Bien, which was provided to me by Tom Bihn for free in return for my feedback.

It's a tray, covered in fabric. Simple, but useful. 

It was designed "to hold and display Organizer Pouches in our Seattle Factory Showroom — and visitors to the Showroom always asked if they could purchase the tray itself. Now they can: the Tray Bien is at home as a desk or drawer organizer."

The one I requested is in the color Boreal, which is a soothing, low-key green.

I like this in the larger size of the two that were offered. It was immediately put to use as a place to empty out all the items that I carry in my backpack, which I try to do every weekend. 


When it's time to pack up for the workweek, anything I might need to throw in my bag -- keys,  pouches, mask, headphones, etc. --  is right there and I don't risk forgetting it.

The company is considering offering a larger size, if this is popular. For me, this "medium" is the best size because it's the appropriate width for most of my pouches. But given the amount of stuff I carry, I could actually use two of these trays!

I wondered if it would pack flat for traveling, but it doesn't, as the product page also notes. This is an item that lives permanently in your home or office.  



EDIT: I was asked to expand this review, which admittedly was a very quick writeup. 


Here's another photo with literally everything in my Paragon backpack emptied out (minus the papers I carried home, and the apple, which I ate), to show the maximum capacity of the medium-sized Tray Bien.


The product page shows more usage examples, and I'm sure other reviewers will have ideas too. For me, I don't really need something so upscale to use as drawer organizers, since they aren't highly visible -- I already have a collection of little boxes, and I sometimes even use electronic boxes (such as the white ones from Apple products, which are really well-built).


This tray would make a good place to corral electronics, too, though for my particular situation it would need to be much larger to deal gracefully with my monster-sized surge protector, and also leave extra space on the sides. 

(This is a space I'm still working on in terms of containing the visual clutter, while still keeping all my cords and chargers accessible. To be honest, I've never found an electronics organizer that does 100% of what I want, though I recently obtained a shallow wood ex-wine crate, which might do the job when I have time to modify and finish it.)


Also, it's worth mentioning that the tray is meant to sit on a solid surface. It does not seem to be strong enough to be used to carry things around, like you would with something designed as a platter for crackers and cheese, or drinks, for instance.

Finally, to go further into why the tray can't be flattened out -- which would make it feasible to stow in a travel bag -- here is the explanation from the product page:

The Tray Bien represents a miniature architectural triumph (well, at least in Tom’s mind.) Since it’s nigh well impossible to sew off the corners of the tray that make it into a rigid, three dimensional object, we use snaps for that final stage of the assembly. Note that, while you can unsnap the corner snaps, doing so does not make it lay entirely flat: the Tray Bien is not intended to be a stowable travel item, but rather a household or office accoutrement.

When I first received this tray, I unsnapped a corner to see what would happen. The overall shape doesn't change; the snap basically provides a way to make it look neat.


If I try to flatten out the corner, it is not possible, though it bends a little:


If you really start to take apart the tray and poke into the seams, the corrugated polypropylene stiffener will be visible. In normal use, however they are not.


But obviously this wasn't intended for travel; it's a nice-looking tray that is meant to sit on a solid surface and corral the little messes that are part of our day-to-day lives. I would recommend that you buy one of these if you have objects in your home or office that could benefit from being "contained" a bit more, and one of the current colors on offer would look good in the spot that it's needed. (For me, the Boreal was perfect for my particular space.)

If you are reading this on the publication date, Happy Thanksgiving! Or, if you are anywhere in the world aside from the U.S., Happy Thursday!


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