Rain's Weekly Design Minutiae: Always Look at the Undersides of Tables

On a late-night dogwalk I passed this display table in the window of a store on Crosby Street.

I was struck by the unusual design of the legs, which flare out in both the X- and Y-axes to meet the apron:

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In other words, surface B wraps around to blend into surface C in the crude sketch below, which was what I envisioned in my head as I was looking at the table.

There’s two sketches because I wasn’t sure what surface A would look like if the top were removed. To find out, I crouched down to get a look from underneath and found a couple of surprises:

Surprise #1. The plywood corner braces. No metal hardware here, just simple strips and triangles. You can see the dots where they’ve been attached with a pin nailer. I expected something more elegant, so here was a reminder that if the customer’s never gonna see it, it doesn’t matter what they look like.

Surprise #2. The center support appears to be solid wood. (You can see edge grain and I doubt they veneered it.) Given that this part will never be seen, I’m surprised they didn’t use less expensive plywood. While a single piece of 3/4″ plywood might sag over the span, I think if they doubled it up it would do fine. There must be some production reason why it was more economical to use solid wood.

Surprise #3: Now that I could see that the legs are actually shaped like sketch 2 above, it surprised me to see that they were actually one piece of solid wood, not some composite pieces that had been veneered. The telltale is the change in grain on sides of the legs perpendicular to each other. In the image below, you can see it’s going from face grain on surface D to edge grain on surface E. (It was quite dark so I’ve lightened the photos artificially in an effort to reveal detail, sorry for the poor quality.)

By crouching down a bit more I found the true giveaway that these legs were solid wood: At the undercut, you can see endgrain.

Now I corrected myself: There’s no way that these legs would be fabricated from a single piece of stock, as in sketch #2 above. To remove that much material, in that cleft on the inside of the legs, would be inefficient. So I looked for some proof that they were made in some other way, and I found it here:

Now you can see a very faint line bisecting the leg:

In other words each leg is made from two pieces of stock, an X-axis side and a Y-axis side, mitered lengthwise at a 45-degree angle and then joined at the miter (the dotted line in the sketch below).

That makes much more sense.

In any case, the store is the New York outpost for Mud, an Australian handmade ceramics brand started by designer Shelley Simpson. I did a little research on them and they have stores all around the world, and for their displays they all use the Vitsoe 606 Universal Shelving System designed by Dieter Rams. In other words Simpson or whoever designed the store has a taste for high design.

The tables in question, different sizes but all the same design, show up in photos of other Mud stores around the world…

…but I was unable to determine who the designer is. If anyone knows, please do comment. And if you live in New York and want to check the tables out, the store is on Crosby between Prince and Spring.

Source: core77

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