Monday, March 1, 2010

Working on a 50 million year old table




After our collaboration on the first two tables of Strauss wood bases and Green River Stone tops was successfully shown in High Point Market this past October, Doug Miller the co-owner of GRS approached me about designing a table base for a large stone top dining table that we could show in New York City at the Architectural Digest Show.

So I do what I always do when thinking about a new design. I try to let my mind wander and also to listen to dreams, whether they be in the daytime or night. I have been fascinated in the last year or so by the ring motif and have found a really cool source for rings in the metalworking company that hosts the blacksmith I work with. They have a lot of scrap steel tube that goes into the recycling bin and we have been salvaging pieces of it and using cut off sections to create forms.

The circle motif was probably introduced most forcibly into my head by studying the designs of Jacques Emile Ruhlmann. So much of the furniture design I have learned has been through admiring the talents and ideas of this French man of the Art Deco period. He inlaid amboyna burl with ivory as in this example pictured below. The craftmanship is outstanding, and the effect is mind-blowing. But the power is from the interlocking and random seeming arrangement, and this is the feeling I wanted to capture.

This cabinet is not my favorite Ruhlmann piece, however the inlay is a style that he used in/on several different configurations. In my mind, he is capturing some of the naturalistic flavor of the Art Nouveau and injecting it subtly into his more modern conception of furniture.




















What I hoped to accomplish in bringing some of my dream to bear with the circle motif, is the idea of this very heavy stone top somehow levitating over the floor. I wanted to create some life and a sense of lightness. This design for a dining table is a first in another sense too. I am creating the base in my shop in Ohio, and Doug's Company is shipping the stone top to New York directly. I will ship the base there and the two parts will be joined for the first time at the show. There is no chance for correction at that point. We have tested the stability of our base with mocked up tops in the shop. The stone is going to weigh over 300 lbs. We had better got it right.



All of the wood structure on the top of the two pedestals is designed to interlock with the stone top and connect the two pedestals together. There are four bolts on each pedestal welded to the inside of the iron rings and protruding down through the bases to nuts and washers on the underside. The top of the ring assembly has brackets which are drilled for bolts to attach into the inside of the wood columns with t-nuts installed in hidden plywood inserts that fill the column inside. The base is 20" square and all the wood has been mitered to meet seamlessly.

A single pedestal side table with a round top is coming.

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