Friday, April 29, 2016

Versatile Hanging Tables

Click HERE for a one  minute Demonstration of the versatility of these tables.

These hanging tables are beautiful and practical.  They create an arresting focal point on the wall.  The light colored, tamo ash veneer appears to flow smoothly across table boundaries creating a beautiful, organic overall graphic design (OGD).  A closer look at this material shows highly variegated grain patterns that capture the oft found complexity in living systems.   The linear grain pattern of the darker, walnut background also flows smoothly across tables providing a warm, patterned mosaic background across tables. 

And these pieces are practical.  Each of the four 31.5” X 31.5” hanging pieces is actually a functional table, height 28.5”.  Each can be removed from the wall and the hidden legs unfolded.  When a table is removed from the wall its hanger serves as an attractive place holder.  Any single table can function as a card table seating 4.  But they can also be set up, one right next to another, in various configurations allowing for a variety of seating configurations when needed, and no loss of valuable floor space when not needed. 

Why did I build these tables?  I was seduced by the potential design possibilities:  The number of potential OGDs in these tables is astonishing, well over 100,000[1]!  

From whence the versatility. With respect to individual table top graphicso no two tables are alike nor is there bilateral symmetry.. So, any rearrangement of tables or any rotation of tables produces new OGDs.  The key is getting the figure and background to appear to flow across tables.  This requires, that the boundaries of the images(s) at the edge of Table A match the boundaries of the images at the contiguous edge of Table B.  This was met by constraining the graphic design of each table top to have figural elements in every corner.  The boundaries of these elements where they cross table edges are exactly the same distance from each corner of the table, 7.75” or 25% of the length of a side.   With this set of constraints, regardless of table selection or rotation the boundaries of the figural elements match up across contiguous pieces.

There must also be continuity in the background and foreground materials across tables, i.e., no jarring change in grain direction or discontinuity of figure in the wood where the tables meet.  To deal with this, the background veneer was configured in a sunburst pattern, i.e., the grain appears to fan out from a point in the center of each table.  Since the walnut grain pattern on each table side is identical within and across tables, there is a background match regardless of specific table or rotation.
The tamo ash figure also seems to flow nicely across table boundaries/rotations.  The color of the tamo ash is a striking contrast to the walnut background.  Thus, the eye tends to see contiguous tamo elements as belonging together.   Also, although the shapes on each table top are unique they are all abstract, organic, curvilinear shapes that are “plausible” continuations of one another.  Further, the large number of complex and irregular changes in grain direction and figure in this wood make it more difficult for the eye to distinguish changes in grain/wood pattern across tables. 

The hanging system.  A system of “French cleats[2]” was devised to make the tables secure while on the wall but simple to take down and put back.  Four cleats in a square pattern were mounted on the underside of each table so that regardless of the rotation of the table there is a cleat in position to slip over wall cleat.  The cleat to receive the table is mounted at the top, front of a cabinet-like structure mounted on the wall.  (The skirting around each table holds the underside of the table away from the wall. The depth of the cabinet structure precisely compensates for this offset.)  Since these “hangers” are visible when the tables are down for use they were made of the same materials and followed the motif of the tables.  
A summing up.  These pieces are versatile.  They are at once décor and functional tables.  And, by storing conveniently on a wall when not in use, they optimize the use of space.  But even when space is not a pressing issue, one can appreciate the beautiful earthy colors, grainy textures, and varieties of figure reflected in these hanging tables.  And, they are designed to provide for a virtual kaleidoscope of interesting, organic, overall graphic designs on or off the wall.

[1] There are 23 unique geographic configurations of the 4 tables.  For each configuration there are 24 permutations of tables and each table can be in one of 4 rotational positions.  In sum, using all four tables there 23 (configurations) X 24 (permutations per configuration) X 4 X 4 X 4 X 4 (rotational positions of the 4 tables) yielding 141,312 potential overall graphic designs (OGDs)!  (Mitch Rothstein, Professor of mathematics, University of Georgia, personal communication, April 11, 2016.)

[2] A French cleat is a strip of molding with a 45 angle on one edge.  A table is securely hung when a cleat mounted to the underside of the table top slips onto a mating cleat mounted on the wall.  A table is simply removed by lifting it off the wall mounted cleat.

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