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With Table-less, a new plastic picnic set that’s part of the Swedish design firm Simplicitas’ Urbana line of travel products, German designer Wolf Udo Wagner makes stunningly efficient use of the triangle. It’s the three-sided star of a portable—and at 11 inches long and barely 3 inches thick, unexpectedly compact—dinnerware collection, perfectly suited for a casual outdoor meal.

The defining element of Table-less is the Trio. More useful (and less ridiculous) than the spork, the Trio combines three eating utensils into one: serrations on one corner, tines on another, and a shallow depression for scooping small morsels on the third. In conceiving the Trio, Wagner says he went back to Stone Age eating implements: “I discovered the hand ax, which is triangular because it gives the best grip when you cut something with it. Another inspiration came from cultures where humans used folded leaves to eat.”

Once Wagner had figured out the Trio, the triangle shape took over. He wanted Table-less to serve five (enough for a typical Swedish family), which led him to a hexagon for the set’s overall construction. “I found that the triangle is also good for cups,” he says, “because they won’t move around inside the box.” The “box” is actually made up of the set’s stackable plates—five triangular cups and Trios sit inside them like pie slices when the set is closed. A hole punched through the center of the plates offers a final bit of multipurpose ingenuity. It holds a two-piece screw that locks the set together during transport, but when the plates have been removed, it serves as a Trio-holder, keeping the cutlery off the ground when not in use.

Wagner hopes Table-less will be a friend to the environment by eliminating the need for wrappers and disposable plates. But the set’s underlying purpose is to tame what can be an unruly culinary experience. “I personally like things that just communicate what they are—no more and no less,” Wagner says. “I think the picnic set tells its own story—the surprising story of getting things in order in a small space.” — jesse ashlock