We've seen the design approaches taken by Jupe and Fletcher to create a circular expanding table. Now let's take a look at the more common table form factor, the rectangle, and some different approaches used to make it expandable.
The first question a designer's got to answer is, where do the leaves go? Are they stored integrally, in Fletcher-like fashion, or meant to be stowed externally, a la Jupe? Resource Furniture's Goliath table takes the latter approach. And while it may seem cumbersome to remove each panel manually and find a place to store them, this is offset by two benefits: The table shrinks down to an almost absurdly small size, offering unmatched space saving, and the length can be customized rather than locking the user into predetermined end lengths.
In our series on Beetle Kill Pine, we showed you how some designers are trying to find useful functions for undesireable, fungus-damaged wood. Another tree with fungal woes is Pecky Cypress, whose innards are scarred by rotted-out voids, making its gap-laden boards unsuitable for say, smooth tabletops.
Instructables Community Manager Mike Warren, a/k/a/ Michaelsaurus, has a workaround: He fills the voids with resins, a technique you've probably seen before. But Warren doesn't use any old resin—he adds photoluminescent powder to the mix, producing a filler that "charges up in sunlight and emits a cool blue glow when in partial or complete darkness."
The full Instructable is here, but peep Warren's cool video first:
Have you ever been in the middle of a design project, when a totally different way of solving the problem occurs to you? Doesn't this always seem to happen to you towards the end, when you're already fully committed to the first solution and it's too late to go back?
It stands to reason that during his many years of perfecting his Capstan Table, thoughts of alternate methods for an expanding round table would occur to designer David Fletcher. Fletcher apparently found one such idea compelling enough to build a prototype of this "Rising and Furling Table." It takes far longer to transform than the Capstan, has added functionality in that it can raise and lower in height, and is presumably less mechanically complicated. Check it out, it's pretty nifty:
The Fletcher Capstan table, like the Jupe table before it, has undoubtedly been copied in garages and workshops around the world. And while it's unlikely that anyone can duplicate David Fletcher's fastidious and multimaterial construction, some enjoy the challenge of DIY'ing something similar that's more within reach.
Contractor Scott Rumschlag falls into this category, and has put more than 400 hours over a couple of years attempting to produce a self-built version of the Fletcher Capstan, complete with star-shaped center and multi-level leaves. Here's what Rumschlag had come up with by February of last year:
While he was not able to duplicate the always-round design of the Fletcher Capstan, here's the version he posted a video of last week, where he explains the mechanicals he devised to achieve Fletcher-like results:
As cool as its design is, the central drawback to the Jupe table is that the leaves must be stored separately. In this video of a Jupe reproduction, at 0:28 to 0:36 you can see they've got the leaves tucked in a rather ugly separate cabinet off to the side:
Enter David Fletcher. While the UK-based designer, mechanical engineer and ex-antique-furniture-dealer appreciated Jupe's design, he figured he could improve upon it. "[Jupe] tables could not store their own expansion leaves, were not truly round in every stage, plus they were slow and laborious to operate." In 1997, Fletcher set about developing an updated design to address these issues.
In the 1830s, an upholsterer and cabinetmaker named Theodore Alexander Robert Jupe was awarded British Patent No. 6788 for an expandable table design. The round six-seater table contained a particularly ingenious mechanical mechanism that must have astonished citizens of the Georgian era. Before we get into the mechanism, have a look at the table from overhead:
Round Dining Table by Robert Jupe from M.S. Rau Antiques on Vimeo.
Here's what's funny: In my opinion, the auctioneer actually uses the table mechanism incorrectly! Watch the footage from 0:21 to 0:27, and you'll see he turns the table counterclockwise to separate the wedges, which is correct. But after adding the inserts, at 0:44 to 0:48 he rotates the table clockwise to tighten the leaves. I feel he has missed the most important point of the table's mechanism, which is called a Capstan mechanism. Watch the CG animation below to understand how it works:
Posted by Sam Dunne
| 5 Dec 2014
Despite The Onion's shock report earlier this year that the world does indeed have enough chairs for the time being ('We Can Just Keep Using The Chairs We Have,' Say Experts), the clamor for yet more novel seating solutions seems to continue apace—the biggest chair-fest of them all, Salone del Mobile, already revving up the engines ahead of next year's celebrations, holding press conferences across a number European capitals last week.
Lithuanian designer Marija Puipaite has created three such novelties—large stools, one made each from plywood, plaster and felt over MDF as part of her graduation project. Professing to be an exploration of "the designer's relation with [their] works and [their] presence in them" the form of the seats is taken from the rotational extrusion of the contours of her own legs. The stools are accompanied by this mysterious (and slightly NSFW) video examination of Marija's legs and body—the form giving 'tools' spinning like a lathe on which the chairs were (metaphorically) turned.
ID History caps on: Is that the work of the Eameses? Arne Jacobsen? Eero Saarinen?
Nope, these chairs are all by modern-day designer Thomas Pedersen, whose quest to create comfortable, multi-positional seating has led him towards the flowing lines favored by the aforementioned giants. Yet Denmark-based Pedersen still manages to inject original flair while channeling mid-century modern.
That's been his quest since 2002, when Pedersen was a senior at the Aarhus School of Architecture. For his final project he came up with the StingRay chair. "I wanted to make a swivel chair with lots of different sitting positions," he writes. "The stingray-like shape came into being as a result of the functionality." Pedersen crafted it out of fiberglass in the school's parking lot (they lacked facilities/shop space for working with fiberglass) and eventually went with a rocking base.
In the years since, the StingRay has gone into production, won a Red Dot Design Award and Pedersen has set up his own firm in Denmark called Spark.
His follow-up Concord chair is a more sober version of the StingRay, done up in leather or fabric. It was reportedly inspired by the supersonic passenger jet of the same name. It's also a bit more mechanically sophisticated than the StingRay, as it both swivels and tilts.
A standing desk is a bit of a commitment, and purchasing one of course requires you jettison your existing desk. But a company called Innovative Office Products is betting on the existence of a customer base that likes their current desk just fine, yet would still like the ergonomic benefits of being able to go up and down as needed.
This past Monday, they released a video of their new Winston Sit/Stand Workstation, a freestanding approach that can be plunked onto your legacy desk and confer 17 inches of adjustable travel height:
In our daily lives, we live with such lousy package design solutions. A tube is a terrible way to store toothpaste, and when was the last time you got the last drop out of a bottle of lotion or shampoo? In addition to the user experience issues, there's the sheer wastefulness of plastic bottles that we use once and then throw in the recycling, still caked with residue. And when it comes to storing wood finishes, an even worse package design than bottles is cans. Here's a can of wood finish left behind by the previous tenant of my current apartment:
I was excited to find it--then disappointed to see he hadn't sealed the lid properly, the lip clogged as it is with poured finish. What a waste.
In the There's got to be a better way! mindset I dug around and found a company called Finishing Solutions, which makes a product called Stop Loss Bags:
If you've got the design genius of a Bill Stumpf and a Don Chadwick married to the technological and manufacturing might of a Herman Miller, you can create an Aeron chair for mass production. And you can even make it in three different sizes for folks of differing heights.
Erickson Woodworking, a father-and-son business out of Nevada City, California, may not have access to furniture giant resources, but they reckon they've got an office chair that discerning customers will line up for: a bespoke, made-to-measure model called the Niobrara.
"Every single one is tailor fit to the individual like a suit," writes Tor Erickson, company co-owner. A host of measurements of the customer yield a fit more precise than three sizes can offer, and this is about as far from factory production as you can get: The Ericksons harvest, mill and dry much of the wood they use themselves.
Posted by Ray
| 30 Oct 2014
Hot on the heel-plate-attachment-points of Noonee's "Chairless Chair," the team at Mono+Mono has launched the "Sitpack" on Kickstarter. The Copenhagen-based design consultancy has developed what they're calling "the world's most compact, foldable resting device," and they're looking to bring the pocketable monopod to market via a crowdfunding campaign. Designed in keeping with the seven universal design principles, the form factor looks like something made by, say, Beats, but the device itself is actually entirely mechanical: The canister splits laterally into wings (which serve as the seat), revealing a telescoping leg that extends to up to 85cm (33in). We know it's that time of year, but don't try this with your kid's lightsaber toy:
Originally known as "Rest"—hence the references in the video—the "Sitpack" is essentially a further reduced version of portable camp stools or those canes with a built-in tripod-stool (both of which I came across in the USPTO archive, after a commenter tipped me off about the original 'wearable chair'), as they indicate in a tabulated side-by-side comparison on their Kickstarter page. They're available for the discounted price of kr175 DKK (about $30 USD); retail will be in the kr270 DKK ($46 USD) range—not bad, considering that they're looking to manufacture it in Denmark—see more here.
Process sketches & renders
Portland-based Frank Howarth isn't your average ivory-tower paper architect, but a man who actually makes things with his hands—and shows you his design/building process. With a YouTube channel dedicated to "Architecture at a small scale expressed through woodworking and filmmaking," Howarth presents shop-built projects in a clever, entertaining way. I also like the man's flair for practical, attractive designs.
A good case in point is his series on French-cleat-based projects he built around his house. We've all got one of those closets filled with household cleaners and other domestic spillover, and here's how Howarth handled his:
Posted by Ray
| 24 Oct 2014
Among other things, the Internet transcends the regional borders of advertising campaigns, which have historically been geo-targeted out of necessity; these days, YouTube affords access to commercials old and new—ironic though it may be that we find ourselves revisiting or discovering ads as content, so too is viralness increasingly a mandate for agencies the world over. We've seen IKEA's regional campaigns before, including BBH Asia Pacific's Apple-spoof 'bookbook' catalog ad for IKEA Singapore; here's their latest work, inspired by The Shining (on the occasion of Halloween):
The transposition of "play" into "pay" may well be the scariest part...
It's very well done, save for the fact that instead of fixing the camera on Danny's body (the Big Wheel is lacking a backrest, as in the source material, but it's close enough), the shot follows his path, which means that he veers to the edge of the frame when cornering—details, people. That said, we'll take any reason to post the classic Steadicam long take:
It would be interesting to see it charted on a map of the IKEA where it was filmed (assuming that they didn't build a faux-showroom set; that would be something else), as in this treatment [exegetical spoiler alert] of the original.
Recreational furniture is one of the more unusual subsets of furniture design, but it's apparently one that people will pay good money for, judging by the plethora of flip-top gaming tables on the market. Up above you see Hammacher Schlemmer's Rotating Air Hockey to Billiards Table, a 350-pound behemoth with a built-in blower for the air hockey side. Flip the surface over and you're set up for pocket billiards (though at seven feet in length, you're not exactly in Minnesota Fats' playground).
This competing table at Hayneedle has HS beat by one game, as they've got table tennis (again, truncated at seven feet) on top of the first two games. Literally on top of them; what a difference a piece of MDF makes, huh?
That lousy giraffe that runs Toys R Us also sells a 3-in-1 gaming table, albeit a tiny one at just four feet in length.
Posted by Jeri Dansky
| 9 Oct 2014
While some people are dismissive of those who have problems assembling IKEA furniture, I know plenty of otherwise competent and intelligent end users who struggle with it. Having helped both friends and clients assemble this stuff, amid many curses, I'm delighted that IKEA is coming out with a new line using tool-free connectors. But IKEA is far from alone; many designers have been creating furniture that assembles tool-free, using a variety of mechanisms. And much of that furniture is shelving and other items that help with getting organized.
Smart Furniture has a product line called Smart Shelves, where the interlocking shelving components slide together using pre-cut slots; the units then connect vertically or horizontally with dowels. The system is designed to allow for easy reconfiguration and expansion. When I watched the assembly video, I was pleased to see that a single person could easily put this product together without needing a helper. The components all have a lifetime warranty.
Legaré has been making desks with no-tool assembly for over 14 years; it now makes shelving units, too. This desk, with its built-in shelving, assembles in two minutes with no tools.
This is a different Legaré desk, but you can see how it goes together using its patented locking tab/slot system. Legaré notes that they can be assembled and disassembled repeatedly without damage. Another nice feature: There are no small pieces to get misplaced. The desks are made from bamboo plywood sourced from FSC-certified mills.
Posted by Ray
| 7 Oct 2014
Seeing as seating and transportation are the proverbial bread and butter of design, the occasional hybridization of two functions in a single form is all but inevitable, manifested in various shapes and sizes. So too can conveyances be reimagined as articles of furniture, as illustrated by these two projects.
First up, the Randonneur Chair by Two Makers is easily the most interesting piece of cycling-inspired furniture we've seen in a long time. Rather less cheeky than Jeremy Petrus's homage to George Nelson and certainly more elegant than the regrettable 'Fixie Table,' the bespoke piece holds its own as a classy rocking chair even as it unmistakably alludes to the bicycle frame as a design object. The Randonneur Chair is characterized by exposed brazing at the joins, as well as lugged construction to the effect of a proper headtube and seatstay cluster, bolt and all); other features include dual bottle cages and the Brooks handlebar tape to accent the drops. While I personally would be curious to see a more subtle version of the chair sans these details, it works equally well with the overt reference points.
Inspired by classic hand-built racing and touring bicycles manufactured by the master Constructeurs of the 1940s, the Randonneur Chair is handcrafted from Reynolds 631 tubing, hardwood and bicycle saddle leather. Using bicycle geometries and traditional frame-building techniques, it is both a celebration of cycling and of bespoke British craftsmanship.
What you see above are the new, no-tools-required connectors Ikea's designers have developed for their new Regissör line of furniture. Rather than using knock-down fasteners, they've created a wooden plug that looks like a cross between a dowel and a honey dipper.
The way that these "honey-dipper dowels" (not what they're officially called, but better than the "wedge dowel" title other blogs are calling it, which makes no sense) work is that the narrower end is pre-installed at the factory, leaving an exposed male end.
The female end of the connection, meanwhile, has been plunge-routed into the surface-to-be-adjoined, keyhole-style:
Because the router bit has the same accordion-like profile of the dowel head, the male end then slides into the routed grooves, maximizing the contact area to create a nice friction fit. You can see this in action in the video below.
If you've ever assembled a piece of IKEA furniture, you've undoubtedly seen the two items up above, and you understand how they fit together:
For the average consumer that doesn't know what they're called, they're named cam lock nuts and cam screws. You'll hear them referred to colloquially as "knock-down fasteners" (and occasionally "Confirmat fasteners," which I believe is incorrect; if enough of you are interested in why, let me know in the comments and I'll pull another entry together). They've been a mainstay of IKEA's flatpack product line for as long as I can remember, although from a design perspective, it seems clear that their benefits are outweighed by their drawbacks.
The meager benefits of cam lock nuts and screws is that they can be driven with a Philips screwdriver, which most consumers have rattling around in a drawer somewhere, and they provide a relatively quick connection method that's low on labor. And on the manufacturing side, they can be used with butt joints, which is by far the simplest and least expensive thing to cut on a production line.
The drawbacks are far greater. The key flaw is that they're designed to be used with particle board, which does not take fasteners well. Because of this it's easy to drive the screw in at a slight angle. The screw is then forced straight when the end user inserts it into the cam lock nut, and this further weakens the point of connection between the screw threads and the mushy particle board fibers. The resultant connection will not withstand shearing forces well, and multiple cam lock nuts and screws are needed along a single edge to form even a barely tolerable connection. Lastly, cam lock nuts are unattractive, and IKEA designers of course take pains to put them on the insides or undersides of surfaces.
IKEA's global influence alone is enough reason for independent manufacturers to keep producing these inferior pieces of hardware. (You can find them everywhere from Amazon to eBay to Home Depot from a variety of manufacturers.) Thankfully though, the designers at IKEA's HQ have been working on a new connection method with several advantages over cam lock nuts. Stay tuned.
Posted by Ray
| 2 Oct 2014
Photos courtesy of Gallery All unless otherwise noted.
A mover-and-shaker in the Chinese creative scene for a decade now, Naihan Li got her start working for Ai Weiwei upon returning to Beijing after completing her studies at London's Bartlett School of Architecture. After subsequently working with various art and design organizations, she founded her own studio in 2010 and is perhaps best known for her CRATES series. This year sees the debut of the I AM A MONUMENT collection at Gallery ALL in the 751 D.Park, as well as a move from the Red Bricks studio/gallery compound (where she hosted an exhibition in her live/work space last year), around the corner to a converted factory. (Rest assured she's still based in Caochangdi, although she handed off her BJDW curatorial duties to Ben Hughes, who gave us a brief tour of the place last week.)
Some two years in the making, the pieces in I AM A MONUMENT take the form of scale models of various landmarks from the Western world: the UN building, Pentagon, New York Stock Exchange and Edinburgh Palm House, which have been re-imagined as a bookcase, bed, shrine and terrarium, respectively. The four new pieces are exhibited alongside the "Armillary Whisky Bar," which was commissioned by Melbourne's Broached Gallery in 2013. Li's artist statement invokes a critical examination of the relationship between art, architecture and design:
I AM A MONUMENT originated from Naihan's recognition of the Chinese desire for giant art installations in their homes. People want to own things that are monumental. This desire traces back to Chinese traditional paintings, which play with the idea of scale from a subjective point of view and minimize the universe. Chinese artists attempt to zoom in to a large part of the world on a small scale. The I AM A MONUMENT collection shrinks a landmark building 100 times and turns it into a utilitarian furniture piece, allowing collectors to contain something that is extremely large inside a room of their house.
The Edinburgh Palm House at the Royal Botanic Gardens
Posted by Moa Dickmark
| 26 Sep 2014
Contemporary Hungarian design, what is it? - that was the question roaming around my mind when I headed down to Budapest a little while ago. In order to gain a greater understanding and overview of what's cooking over in Hungary, I met up with Judit Osvárt, the woman responsible for Budapest Design Week, at Nomuri, a newly opened design cafe in the heart of the city.
First, a very brief history of Budapest Design Week: Once upon a time, in the early 2000s, the Hungarian Property Office felt that it was time for them to introduce the public to the world of design so as to create a greater understanding of what design is, seeing that it can be rather hard to wrap your head around unless you know what it's all about. They were also very keen on helping Hungarian designers understand their rights in the legal system and teach them more about patents and other mysterious formulas.
The first year, you could attend a mere 28 events, but over the years, Budapest Design Week grew and grew in size, peaking on their ten-year anniversary with a total of 350 events including fashion shows, design exhibitions and festivities for days.
In the design sphere, we often hear about countries such as England, Italy, China, The Netherlands and Denmark when it comes to what is hot and up and coming on the design scene. Hungary is not on this list, but things are changing. For the 11th year in a row, they are arranging Budapest Design Week, an event that this year around starts off with the opening of a major exhibition on October and continues with events in various forms until October 10.
I keep waiting for a modern-day piece of furniture to top David Roentgen's transforming gaming table, but it ain't gonna happen. The only man who can top Roentgen is Roentgen himself. As evidence, have a look at the Berlin Secretary Cabinet designed and built by Roentgen (possibly with his pops, Abraham) which goes even further than the gaming table. The automatic flip-out easel at the end is just mind-blowing:
Consider that this was all made by hand, prior to the Industrial Revolution.
The cabinet, which was owned by King Frederick William II, is described by the Metropolitan Museum of Art as "One of the finest achievements of European furniture making" and "the most important product from Abraham (1711–1793) and David Roentgen's (1743–1807) workshop."
Posted by Moa Dickmark
| 22 Sep 2014
The young Danish designer Mikkel Mikkelsen first caught my attention when I saw a series of experiments he had created with wood, aluminum and acrylic/plexi. A dining table with the same honesty as the original experiment captures the lessons learned.
Ever since I first saw the experiment, I've enjoyed following his progress as a designer, and a few months ago, one of his latest endeavors caught my attention once again. This time around, it was due to a duck. I know it sounds a bit odd, but this little character with a metal beak is a remarkable duck, one that you fall in love in a heartbeat, part of a grander book project created by Aviendo Fairytales. Seeing how far Mikkel has come since the first time I saw his work, how true he has been towards himself, his design and the people he come into contact with, I figured it was about time you all got a proper introduction to his work.
Core77: How did you get into the field of design?
Mikkel Mikkelsen: Before I started in the school of architecture, I was working in construction while I was doing business school. I was working in building high-end private homes in a company where my dad was a constructing architect. So the interest for architecture started there I guess—my dad also had his own studio before this, so drawing houses has always been in my life. It was like it was meant to be.
I think after architecture school, I was looking for a way to keep working on mikkelmikkel because I was, and am not very interested in a 9-to-5 job in one of the big companies. I tried this a couple of times but I always end up feeling stuck behind a computer and very detached from the projects. I think it has something to do with the scale of the projects in the big companies. I have always preferred the smaller scale that relates more directly to the basic needs of human beings.
To me, the interaction with clients are what drives the projects. A new project is always kind of a journey where you get up close and personal with the people you work for, which I find very interesting. Half of the journey is identifying and understanding the needs and challenges in a project before solving them.
We previously covered industrial designer Robb Godshaw's work here and here, and now the self-described "interactive artist, tinkerer and designer" has created something blogworthy yet again. Masquerading as a health-promoting piece of work furniture, Godshaw's latest creation is a commentary on our working lives: It's a standing-desk treadmill—except the treadmill has been turned inside out to place the user on the inside. Like a hamster wheel.
Godshaw created it as part of his artist-in-residence term over at Autodesk's Pier 9 fabrication facility, teaming up with a fellow tinkerer going by the handle wrdwise. With assistance from Vanessa Sigurdson, Gabe Patin, Oliver Kreitman, and Bilal Ghalib, the duo designed and built the thing and posted an Instructable on it for like-minded hamsterfolk.
Rise up, sedentary sentients, and unleash that untapped potential within by marching endlessly towards a brilliant future of focused work. Step forward into a world of infinite potential, bounded only by the smooth arcs of a wheel. Step forward into the Hamster Wheel Standing Desk that will usher in a new era of unprecedented productivity.
Here it is in action:
If you've ever passed a park in Chinatown and seen the older folks playing Mahjong, you've undoubtedly seen them manually "shuffle" the tiles between games before rearranging them into fresh rows. This is how they've done it for thousands of years, but in the past few decades, Mahjong tile shuffling and dealing has received a rather awesome upgrade:
Among pet lovers it's a common, if somewhat weird, practice for them to give their animal a Facebook page or Twitter account, as if Spot and Felix had the wherewithal to operate a computer. But Portland, Oregon-based Mike and Megan Wilson, the husband-and-wife team behind CatastrophiCreations, are taking it one step further and claiming their cats can design and build.
One morning we woke up and stumbled into the living room. To our suprise, our new baby kitten had gotten into my tool box and taken apart our couch and rebuilt it into a cat bridge. After that we thought, "Bingo", we'll lock him in a room and start selling all of his creations on Etsy.
After a couple weeks we started feeling bad for the load we were putting on our new cat, so we got another cat to give him a hand and double the amount of orders we can produce. Toys for cats, by cats.
Gag aside, their Indiana Jones Cat Bridge ($150 to $180) has proven to be a hit, and the couple began designing and building more cat-based furniture. Hammocks, ramps, shelves, climbing holes, feeders, and even a Super-Mario-Bros.-inspired "complex":