Much of my design focus is directed toward seating challenges. It’s fun to play with structural curves to create beautifully comfortable seating that transforms even the simplest meals into inspiring moments of one’s day. But seating is not the only part of the dining set that impacts comfort. The table itself needs enough mass to feel solid and stable, yet allow freedom of movement for legs, feet, and knees. Lack of adequate room for one’s lower extremities can spoil a meal before it’s served.
I use a basic formula to identify where clearance allowances are needed and where solid form can be manipulated. The interplay between the space required for the comfort of the diner and the structure critical to support the tabletop offers unlimited opportunity for creative exploration when designing a pedestal.
Generally, I think within the framework of a few rules to guide my creative ideas, and generally, I stay out of trouble. But a commission for a custom-sized table based on a prior design threw a surprising level of the challenge my way. The client had seen a 10’ table, we had made a year ago, supported by a pair of massive sweeping curves, and wanted an 8’ version of the same concept. I knew I would have to modify the curves in the base to prevent them from being an impediment, but that didn’t seem overly complicated. But when it came time, I spent hours playing with ideas of how to do this, until finally, I gave up. I simply could not bend those curves to position the feet correctly while maintaining an elegant shape and end profile. What worked on the 10-footer, simply lost its charm at 8.
It was time for a new base design, one that maintained comfort, support, and elegance regardless of table length. While I typically have used graphite and paper for this exercise, I this time had Adam Maloney, our new engineer fresh out of SCAD’s design program, to put it all into CAD. Adam and I played with different curves that flowed from the critical support points, away from knees, and up to the tabletop. We then turned the sketch upside down, sideways, and backward, adding tilt in each direction and edge shaping to play with the negative space between the two pedestals. To be able to work the design from different perspectives and to ultimately share a perfect digital rendering with the client, was awesome.
The resulting design has been a great hit with everybody who has visited our shop while it was here on display. It is certainly one of my favorite designs and I look forward to seeing many variations over the coming years.