From their earliest mention in ancient Egyptian inscriptions to the modern trestle and refectory styles we know so well, tables have come a long way. Today, new materials and design methods are injecting further creativity into modern tables – but are they having an identity crisis? These 16 table designs look like they are eager to be something else.
Old furniture can always be reinvented with a fresh, bright lick of paint. This table picks up the concept and runs with it – giving the illusion of a board dripping with a river of fresh red paint. Designer John Nouanesing hides function (the table legs) within illusion – it is likely a great deal sturdier than it first appears.
Here is another table that seems to dispense with legs. Danish designer Essey’s Grand Illusion appears to be a tablecloth hovering in mid-air – but the clue is in the title. It is made from 3mm-thick acrylic, firm enough to magically suspend your coffee cup (David Copperfield would approve). More practically, for those with a penchant for countertop composting, the Digestive Table offers an earthier alternative – at its heart is a contained ecosystem to process food scraps and create rich fertilizer for indoor plants.
A table that thinks it’s a cutlery drawer – called Precious Famine, this arresting web of metalwork is made of Christofle silverware. Don’t drop your spoon on this table – you’ll never find it again. In a similarly reflective mood, the Brasilia table appears to be salvaging Art from seven years of bad luck, by forming a mosaic of mirror shards. The inspiration is the chaotic jumble of stone that form the foundations of Brazil’s capital city.
These tables don’t want to keep still – or so it appears. The r.n.i. tables of Korean designer Chul An Kwak are modeled on running horses, but there’s a frond-like hint of the deep sea in those trailing legs. Anyroom’s Dance table looks similarly intent on being elsewhere, but more sedately, like a caterpillar.
Surely we are now on firmer ground now, with this bedside table like a low dresser, and this tall table fit for a lamp? Not when the former folds out into a sofa (as easily and simply as sliding out a drawer) and the latter is a piece of furniture fit for an ancient Celtic warrior. James McAdam has designed the table as a response to the security fears of around half of Londoners, but it’s bound to hit a chord with the inhabitants of other thriving cities.
In Japan, a third of a million people are gainfully employed in sending tiny steel balls bouncing around vertical tables. That seems to be the inspiration behind Marbelous, perhaps the world’s first piece of Pachinko furniture. Watch as the balls wind their way through the tabletop, corkscrew down the legs and collect in the feet (and be sure to watch out for any that have escaped onto the floor).
Not content to be just a table, the House On The Table wants to be your entire office. The draught round your legs may be disconcerting, but otherwise this table offers all the basics of a modern workspace, bookcase and all. Lee Stoetzel’s creation looks like it belongs on your shelf, but it is actually a table in disguise – whilst the Stink tree table (yes, that’s the name) cunningly masquerades as an ex-table. However, a closer look reveals that crack running through its centre is a beautifully crafted tree.
Perhaps modern technology is more to your liking – in which case, these tables are sure to please. The Wave is a coffee table inset with a network of motion-sensitive LEDs: wave your hand over its surface, and a ripple of light will follow your motion. A table to make the most of your best glassware. The HP Labs Misto table, on the other hand, thinks it is your computer screen, allowing you and your loved ones to view photos and movies and play games on its touch-sensitive surface.
And lastly, a table with a sense of real grandeur. The Concerto Table looks for all the world like a super-modern Grand Piano … until dinnertime, at which point drawers slide out to reveal your best silver cutlery. It’s also designed to be a musical centerpiece, thanks to the built-in housing for an iPod. But, sadly, there are no ivories to tinkle.