When you think “table,” you’re likely to imagine a set of four legs and a top.
When Peter Harrison thinks “table,” he conjures up all kinds of unusual versions. For instance, instead of hiding the structural connections in his tables the way it’s typically done, he brings them center stage. Steel cables, rods and fasteners become important parts of the design.
“I find these elements give life to my pieces,” says the furniture designer, from Middle Grove, New York. “They’re a view of exposed structure, yet not a complete vision. A glimpse of what’s inside.”
At his booth at this spring’s Architectural Digest Design Show here, Harrison had a striking dining table on display called Oahu: a glass circle perched on a truss of sapele (an African heartwood) legs, joined together with aluminum brackets and steel bolts. Some of his other tables resemble bridge spans, with sinews of aluminum cabling suspended between concrete, wood or acrylic struts. (www.peterharrison.com )
Tables were a highlight at the show, held in March on Manhattan’s Pier 94. It was a venue for both established and emerging furniture designers from North America and around the world. The crowd numbered more than 40,000.
Designer Kino Guerin of Melbourne, Quebec, has been experimenting for the last 10 years with a vacuum lamination process. He combines industrial-grade plywood with rare woods and veneers to craft fluid, elegant tables.
The Nebula table was inspired by a curled paper ribbon. Walnut and sweet gum veneers curved into the aptly named Toboggan. On Guerin’s Salto console, the legs on one end do a loop-de-loop as they stretch to the floor. (www.kinoguerin.com )
Designers Michael Bell of Belfast, Northern Ireland, and Susan Zelouf of New York have a studio in an old chocolate factory in Dublin. They work with unusual woods like koto, red birch, black Bolivar and Makassar ebony, embedding surprising yet beautiful elements into their tables like koi fish or, shown at the Architectural Digest Show, monarch butterflies. (www.zeloufandbell.com )
ReSAWN Timber of Telford, Pennsylvania, showed a nice example of their Charred collection: The walnut table had been blackened using an ancient Japanese technique called shou sugi ban. The process involves charring the wood, misting it lightly with water before it’s cooled, and then brushing, sealing or staining it. The charcoal preserves the wood, acting as a barrier against insects, rot and fire, while accentuating the natural grain. (www.resawntimberco.com )
KGBL’s Pintor black walnut coffee table was another standout, with chamfered edges, brass inlay, and a top of handmade glass that’s available in jewel tones like topaz and aquamarine. The Terranova coffee table’s top was hewn from a single block of marble, set on a bronze base. And the Holyfield side table was made using an old French technique that uses straw instead of wood strips to craft the marquetry’s veneer. The sexy little table perches on shapely bronze legs and has an interior storage niche clad in sassy tomato red. (www.kgblnyc.com )