This piece draws inspiration from the idea of an abyss or black hole. I created a table that draws small objects into an irretrievable void. I wanted to subvert the table as a planar surface that supports objects on its surface.
The Tri-Table was produced for a furniture studio course at the Rhode Island School of Design. The objective was to design and construct a table using hand tools. The course was instructed by the master woodworkers Peter Dean and Yuri Kobayashi. I started into the project with the intention of challenging the idea of a table and testing the boundaries of function and non-function in an object.
The ultimate goal was the curation of an experience centered around the table top surface. Using this as a guideline, I determined that the table needed a low stature and inset legs. I chose to only paint the top surface in opaque black milk paint, which emphasized the top surface. The light tone of birdseye maple contrasts with black milk paint and makes the surface stand-out to the user.
The decisions about form were heavily influenced by the work of James Turrell. This is most apparent in the treatment of the hole in the table top. Similar to Turrell’s work on depth perception, the edges of the hole are tapered to an edge, which makes it difficult to distinguish the empty space of the hole with the table top. A noise canceling cushion was placed inside the boxed understructure to complete the illusion of items disappearing into the table.
I was considerate of the nature of wood and tried to design for the longevity of the piece. I included exposed mitered splines in the table top to accommodate long term warping. All the joinery was cut by hand and the piece was finished with wipe-on polyurethane, which does not yellow hard maple like other finishes.
I presented the final object in a presentation and then received a critique from my peers and a panel of skilled designers and makers. I was applauded for my craftsmanship and conceptual intrigue. Many felt visually arrested by piece. The design draws viewers in for closer inspection of details. Some questioned whether the traditional approach towards the understructure was suited for the striking for of the top. The overall reception of my piece was excitement tinged with amusement.
- Photographer: Makoto Moses Kumasaka