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Simply Ming-nificent

On the surface, one might find the relationship between Thos. Moser Cabinetmakers of Auburn, Maine, and Emmy Award-winning chef Ming Tsai, the host of public television's "Simply Ming" series, to be somewhat unusual.

The Meridian tables and chairs from Thos. Moser Cabinetmakers was selected for the dining segment on "Simply Ming."

Tsai shares with viewers his foolproof system for creating delicious East-West food in a snap by streamlining his trademark blend of French, American and Asian culinary traditions.

Thos. Moser Cabinetmakers has earned an international reputation for its award-winning designs and is recognized as one of the world's foremost designers and builders of solid wood furniture.

So what gives?

Tsai uses a table to dine with his guest chefs in the last segment of each show, as well as to help display to the viewing audience the food they have prepared. Designer David Moser, son of Thomas Moser, says the company has built a couple of table and chair sets for the show.

"The first one he selected was from the Edo Collection, low-back chairs, very Asian," says designer David Moser. "Then, in this year's taping, he asked, "What would you recommend?" So we chose the new Meridian table and Meridian chairs. What is interesting about it is it works quite well, but I wasn't necessarily going for an Asian aesthetic. I was looking really to capture the Danish influence and so that is what you've got there. It isn't highly ornate, but most Danish furniture isn't highly ornate."

David Moser describes the style of the Meridian Collection as a combination of Danish and Shaker influences.

"There is one unifying element in both Danish and Shaker and I think the hallmark is simplicity and purity," he explains. "There is no ornamentation applied so they both share an aesthetic group, but they also share a social connection because the Danes were designing for social needs and so were the Shakers designing for the social community. With the Shakers, it was a little more spiritual because their designs came about not because they were not masterminds of pure form. The faster they could execute their furniture, the quicker they could get to more spiritual pursuits."

The Meridian line came out about a year ago and consists of tables, chairs, casework and a sideboard. It is available in ash and cherry.

"I wasn't trying to make Shaker furniture; I was trying to make Danish furniture," he explains. "But it is interesting because there are parallels between Shaker, Danish and even Japanese furniture. You could make the argument that it was part and parcel of the time that they were introduced and the machines allowed those forms to be executed in similar fashion. Because, clearly, the Shakers knew nothing of what was going on in Japan at the time. But that is not true with the Danish. The Danes were well aware of what was happening in the Shaker community."

Contact: Thos. Moser Cabinetmakers, 72 Wright's Landing, Auburn, ME 04210-8307. Tel: 207-784-3332.

This article originally appeared in the October 2010 issue.

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