The table was built in the ancient Chinese woodworking tradition using only wood connections. The finish was natural Tung oil to further express the beautiful pattern of the wood grain.
As we begin to question the sustainability of disposable goods, making a piece of furniture that can last one’s lifetime and beyond seems the ultimate in sustainable use of both time and our increasingly more precious materials.
This piece of furniture was designed and built as part of a furniture design/build seminar. Inspired by the human body, the student came up with the idea while doing push-ups on knees during his daily exercise routine. The legs of the table became two of three supports, and the hands combined function as one support. The wood members connecting hands and legs give the piece of furniture structural stability and strength. As a result, all the connected wood members support a two by four foot glass top.
The most difficult challenge in making this coffee table were the complex joints. Built in the ancient Chinese wood working tradition, there are no nails or metal connectors, only glue and wood joints. Due to the complex geometric form, the student had a very hard time figuring out how to cut the pieces and make sure that they matched each other perfectly. He built a 3D model, two full size physical mockups and several partial joint mockups in order to understand the relationship between the different geometries. The coffee table was made of Wenge wood which has an intricate pattern on its surface. Finished with natural oil, the beautiful grain was even more exposed.
According to the student, by completing this furniture course, he gained substantial experience in craftsmanship and how to deal with wood, and I addition, it also helped him to understand structure, not only of furniture, but also of buildings.