June 28th, 2011 _ _
I visited “Tools Galerie” at 119 rue Vieille du Temple a few weeks ago to see this table from Frédéric Ruyant‘s series called fractal. I was expecting not to be able to keep my hands off the slick corian, but how wrong was I. A little snow blind from the white surface, I found myself standing well away from it and moving round leaning backward and forwards being fascinated by the different shapes and planes thrown as shadows. I think this table is best suited to indirect lighting or lighting from the side to create more subtle shadows across the surface.
This creative piece is in executed in corian, which has the warmth of wood, the toughness and hygiene of stone and the plastic possibilities of…well plastic. Having designed kitchens with corian I appreciate the considerable workmanship that has gone into this piece with it’s changing planes. The only part that jars a tiny bit for me was the metal bit that fitted around the top of the legs to fix it to the to the table-top. This joint didn’t seem to have quite the same level of design detail or workmanship as the rest. Then again this is something I frequently see in tables, that the bit that you’re not looking at can be less worked out than the rest. This table is after all about geometry not joinery.
I’ve had a lot of fun trying to do seating plans. Nine people in 2/1 /2 / 1 /2 /1 formation, or six people in a 2 /0 /2 /0 /2 /0 formation, or a more radical six in a 2 /1 /1 /0 /2 /0 formation. The last one is quite fun as it could throw conventions up in the air, but it perhaps isn’t respecting the geometry which is quite tight. If this table were mine I think I’d use it as a work table, it’s zone-able and possible to work with another person either together or individually. Most of all there are those three long grooves to stop erasers, pens and pencils rolling away.
Spatial organisation is another great game to play with this table, The multitude of possibilities that it opens up could occupy me for a week and become quite addictive. Unfortunately although it is a fun game it’s not one that many architects will get to play since the table is only produced in a limited edition of 5.
June 21st, 2011 _ _
When I was in the NeC gallery looking at last week’s table, this mid-century classic desk caught my eye. “Mid century classic” a great buzz phrase for trendsters that are often not so young any-more, much like the classic pieces of design themselves. Mid Century Classic always refers to design when modernism had matured but was still fresh, if it were a term for literature or people, (I hope to be one myself once I’m out of my forties), Ian Flemming’s James Bond would certainly classify. The debonair international mid century man of style that he was, he would naturally have the latest Danish design for his desk.
This Bodil Kjaer desk designed in 1959 was used as agent 007′s desk in the films ”From Russia With Love” and “You Only Live Twice”, transforming it from a piece of furniture into a prestigious cult object, for which there was a waiting list. This particular made-to-measure example is larger than most, but the recipe is the same. Brazilian rosewood ( it exists in alternative precious woods), and chromed steel. The contribution that this object makes to the world of spy design is the lock that is on the far right of the table-top that secretly locks all the whole length of drawers at the same time… not such a secret anymore.
June 14th, 2011 _ _
It was a miserable rainy day when I passed in front of the NeC Gallery (Nisen et Chiglien) at 117 rue Veille du Temple, where this original Arne Jacobsen table was sitting in the window. Installed in a universe of mid-century scandanavian design, it was just what I needed. Warm, comfortable, not too precious, perfect for serving up hot chocolate or coffee and carrot cake, it was also ready for a few extra friends that maybe pass by. (Unfortunately this is not likely to happen, as the gallery is rather protective of it’s pieces). This is the kind of table that when I was growing up I knew that adults loved.
The table is known as the “Grand Prix” table, since the chairs on which the design is based, won the Grand prix at the XI Triennale di Milano in 1957. Like the chairs, the upper parts are made of teak and the legs are made of beech. It is the legs of the table which are of particular interest, the curved lines reflect the lines of Arne Jacobsen chairs, creating a section that is strong and light. Unusually this is a full set so I’m sure it will be bought quickly.
This table illustrates Jacobsens ability to take the simple, light-weight functionality of the international style yet infuse it with a softness and warmth that is so important in northern countries when you need to get out of the rain. A necessary balance between the formal and casual at a time where modern living meant that the formal dining table and the kitchen table became one and the same.
June 7th, 2011 _ _
This pair of side tables was designed by Jean Brand for atelier Janus around 1970 and are now sitting in the window of Galerie de la Marque, 2 rue des Saints-Pères. I think their next stop should be in a contemporary interior where these two would add richness and depth. I’m not sure whether I could say “add lightness” too because these tables, that are made of white resin chips frozen in a transparent resin, are extremely heavy. Style-wise it’s a very clever balance, managing to stay slick and modern yet have texture and randomness.
The little white chunk inclusions seem to float in space, magically hovering in a matrix. The technique used to achieve this effect is called “fractal”, which was not as over used a word in the early seventies as it is now. (I actually find the term quite charming in a sort of techno, retro, Star Trecky way). The fact that these irregular chunks are quite sizable, and that there are gaps between them, makes you more conscious of a thickness of matter. They gauge the depth in 3D more than if the resin were merely transparent or if the inclusions were minuscule. The construction is very simple, a disk with a hole for the table top which was slotted onto a truncated cone, a leg which you can see, perfectly flush, in the middle of the table top. One thing that I did notice about these guys was that they are real head turners.