Over the past couple of months I designed two new products that I finally got to show to the public a couple of weeks ago at the Architectural Digest Home Design Show. I didn’t want to post too much about them before the show, but now that it’s over I’m excited to share the stories behind each design.
The first of the two new products is the Balance End Table. I began work on it in early January and, as always, I started with plenty of abstract sketching as a way of brainstorming possible designs. Apart from planning to use steel cables under tension as a key structural element, I had no idea what the thing would actually look like in the end. I hadn’t designed anything new in a while, so I wanted to take this opportunity to really play around and come up with a new cabling pattern that I had never used before. It’s always a little tricky to figure out new ways to incorporate cables into my work because, along with looking good, I require that they serve a structural purpose. I tried out a bunch of different ideas on paper, many of which revolved around the idea of using steel cables to balance a tabletop on some sort of “leg.” In my mind all of these designs looked great, but once I sketched them out most ended up being impossible designs that couldn’t actually be engineered.
I eventually came up with two central ideas that served as the foundation for the rest of the design. First, I realized that if the table was going to feature some sort of tabletop held in balance by steel cables, the tabletop couldn’t just be a simple piece of glass like in my coffee table designs. Instead, there needed to be some part of the tabletop that the cables could run through and pull on. This bummed me out a little, since I’ve always felt that a clear glass top works best with my sculptural table bases. Looking for a way around the problem, I came up with the idea building a tabletop consisting of a wooden frame with a glass inset. I figured that this way the cables could run though and pull on the frame, while the glass inset would keep the base from being too obscured.
The second central idea I arrived at was the notion of balancing the table on two legs in opposite corners. Up to this point, I had been trying to balance the table on different various shapes and it just didn’t work. The idea of using two legs was very simple but, as I’ve learned, simple ideas can often take a while to arrive at.
Having decided upon using a two-legged design with a framed glass tabletop, I was finally able to sketch out some tables that could actually be built. The only main problem left was to figure out how I would orient the cables so that they would both look cool and stabilize the tabletop on the two legs. In the end, I decided upon a design that had the cables running up from a square base and into one side of the wooden tabletop frame. From there, the cables would run horizontally to the other side of the frame just under the glass and then back down to their origin points in the base. With this design, the cables would not only create interesting contours, but they would also pull downward on the tabletop, holding it firmly balanced atop the two legs without any need for glue or screws between the two.
After completing my drawings, I built a plywood prototype to make sure the cables would both look good and actually hold everything in place. The prototype worked great, so I moved onto building the final product. Going with the idea of trying new things with this design, I decided on trying out some new woods I had never worked with before. I knew I wanted a contrast of light and dark woods and I ended up going with cherry for the legs and sapele for the base and frame. Unlike most of my other designs, this one required very little use of the CNC machine. Instead, all of the parts are shaped and assembled completely by hand with the use of saws and sanders. As a result, this is my most time-consuming design to manufacture, but I think it’s worth it given the result!
After finishing the design and having a while to think about it, I’ve decided that my favorite thing about it is the way the contours created by the crossing cables seem to transform as you walk around the table. Take a look at the pictures below that show the table from different angles and you’ll get a sense of what I’m talking about!
Check back soon for a post on my other new product – the Arc Floor Lamp.