“Ordered Chaos Dining Table”
wenge, maple, acrylic and glass
The Ordered Chaos Dining Table is an attempt to merge the everyday with the uncommon. I had designed a sculptural form and wanted to study its interactions with light. I wanted a unique piece with which I could experiment with many forms of light and shadow and various photographic techniques. At the same time, I wanted a more unique and artistic dinner table. Somehow, these two design requirements started to move closer until it began to seem like they were paired from the start.
My sculptural form was inspired by He Jingtang’s China Pavilion at Expo 2010 (now known as the China Art Museum). The Pavilion itself was inspired by the duogong roof brackets that were common in Tang-period architecture. I was fascinated by the bold color choice, as red is one of my favorite colors. Most importantly, I imagined that the negative space would change in mesmerizing ways as you moved around it.
I created a 2D model of a set of interlocking forms that would float between two sheets of glass, so that I would be able to cast light thru the entire assembly. I kept the table frame simple to complement the angular sculpture.
I could not make a realistic enough model of the assembled sculpture, so I moved both designs into Google Sketchup. The table and sculptural forms were very receptive of each other, so figuring out my joinery was very easy. Selecting a material for the sculpture was a bit tougher, since it had to hold up to two sheets of very heavy glass.
For the sculpture, I learned that painted wood could deform and fade with time and changing humidity, so I decided to use acrylic. For the table frame and legs, I chose wenge and curly maple, feeling that they would balance the red acrylic very nicely.
The sculptural medium proved to be temperamental. Acrylic is strong, but it chipped, cracked and scratched easily under the waterjet. Consequently, each cut piece had to be hand-washed, sanded, scrubbed, glossed, and polished. Also, I was never sure how I would weave the pieces together, with my mental simulations of the joinery all ending in failure. I was never certain it could work until I’d seen it joined in the workshop.
Finishing was another issue. I’d learned some bitter lessons during the construction of The Zen Garden Coffee Table. The maple frame had to be fully finished before assembly began. This made for some tense moments as I coaxed delicate acrylic into finished wood and then assembled a table around it all.
I’m quite pleased with this table. I find myself wondering, however, if I could have done more to make this piece lighter. Weight will be a foremost concern on future projects.
See also: The Ordered Chaos Dining Table Production Diary on Google Photos.