Joseph Smolenicky, an award winning Swiss architect, designed a table made of brushed and anodized, square aluminum tubes as the latest addition to his United Objects furniture collection. Smolenicky was fascinated that the round steel tube is omnipresent in furniture design, but the square aluminum tube is almost never used.
“As a designer, I was interested in what results when you use a ‘foreign’ product in design furniture making. The possibility of creating something new is very great and therefore stimulating as a problem,” said Smolenicky. “Another phenomenon that interested me is that the square tube has a clear simple cubic physicality. At the face, where the tube is cut, something completely different happens. Here the material is as thin as paper! Wow, that’s cool.”
The table’s hollow square aluminum tubes are sturdy, but also lightweight, providing the perfect material properties to span a table top over 260 cm, without any sagging. The table top has the shape of a rhombus. The intention behind the shape was to promote communication between four people sitting at the table. A rectangular table of four forces people to face each other straight on, making it essentially two rows of forward-facing people. The rhomboid form is inventive compared to the formality of a rectangular table. All four people at the rhomboid table can more easily turn towards one another as they are placed at more accessible angles diagonally.
The table top and table legs together create the illusion of a negative space. At the intersection of the four table legs is a piece of vertically positioned tube. As a result, the strutting table legs seem to float in the air — contrary to the expectation that there should be something stabilizing there. At the other end, where the triangular table legs touch the tabletop, a different phenomenon occurs. The tips of the table legs meet the tips of the rhombus table top. Smolenicky describes these tabletop tips as seeming to “rest on the toes of a ballerina.”
“The charm of this table project was to take an ordinary industrial product — and not a special alloy — and see it, against convention, as an aesthetic and constructive material and not just as a constructive product,” said Smolenicky. “It is a new way of looking and behaving at something very normal like a square tube of aluminum.”
The square aluminum tubes were supplied by Debrunner Koenig Group to Ruosstech AG, the metalworker. The producer of the aluminum itself is unknown.