A study in facets, I wanted to combine brass and a dark wood, and design a quirky open ended table.
The objective was to use dark wood and brass finish to create a sleek, durable occasional/coffee table that boasted hidden faculties and suited any contemporary living room. The result is something that exudes aesthetic simplicity but is founded on complex structural strategy and therefore consistently invites conversation about the design process.
A table designed to look as if it is without structure begs the questions, how does it work and how does it not collapse?
I started with an idea of using a brass plated hidden drawer inside a wood surround, which led to my creating concepts with a shelf under the tabletop to be used for magazines and newspapers. This open shelf design evolved into an open ended design, and thus delivered the challenge of fabricating the piece in such a way that made it appear fragile and delicate, but was in fact robust and sturdy. All laws of nature suggest that an open ended design would collapse or rack without substructure, but significant substructure would make the design bulky and less refined. The solution was a steel sleeve (brass plated), which creates the structural stability for the open ended design with a minimal of bulkiness. The sleeve is inset inside the wood surround to conceal its function. The brass plated sleeve also creates an interesting reflective effect that makes it look illuminated from the inside. The brass interior of the sleeve looks like it could be a light wood finish, or even a glowing painted finish. I was attempting to design the table so the sleeve didn't look structural. In fact, I wanted the table to look like it didn't have structure, again, begging the question "How does not collapse?"
Additionally, I wanted the shape of the piece to easily adapt into a setting but also stand on its own. I was able to do this by using facets and bevels in the table form, constructing a diamond-like silhouette. The brass plated base was designed like a setting on a diamond ring, to display the table form as if floating in space. The table therefore sits like a jewel as part of, or as the focal point of, any residential or interior room. With regard to its elements, the wood surround is plywood with a wood veneer and has a solid wood edge; rather than using solid wood throughout, this creates a luxurious finish and feel with minimal cost and environmental impact. Plywood has always been a very sustainable material. Many plywood manufacturers plant twice as many trees as they harvest. The base and sleeve of the table are steel, which is the #1 recycled product in the North America.
Project Specifications: Dimensions: 32" x 32" x 18" high
Materials used: Brass plated steel plate and box steel, plywood with Mahogany veneer and solid edges.
Fabrication techniques: The brass plated steel sleeve is wrapped in plywood, which then has the solid wood edges and veneer applied to it. The resulting form is mounted on the brass plated base. The wood is then finished with a dark stain and a dull rubbed lacquer to create dull finish that will contrast well with the brushed brass finish of the brass plated elements.
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