The bronze oval pillar table
When we visited the foundry in Takaoka City, Toyama Prefecture, the workers were about to pour molten bronze into sand moulds. The burbling noise made by the viscous bronze put us in mind of the crater of an active volcano. With a ladle, the workers scooped it into the sand mould cavities, in what resembled a battle between metal and heat. Those of us who were unused to the peculiar smell of molten metal spreading across the quiet, dim factory found it hard to breathe. Several hours had passed when the sizzling sand moulds were taken out of the metal flasks they had been encased in. As the moulds were cracked apart, solid balls of metal emerged from within, grains of sand still clinging to their surface. Billows of steam rose relentlessly from the sand, engulfing the artisans’ faces.
This foundry is involved in crafting a variety of objects, from bronze statues and works of prominent sculptors to metal signs. Visiting places where things are made is often a source of inspiration, and we were struck by the idea of incorporating this casting technique in furniture-making to craft a uniquely beautiful product. Bronze has a higher relative density than light metals such as aluminium. It is also heavier, even in small sizes. These characteristics inspired the design of the base for a table: a large tabletop resting on a single leg. Placing the base at the centre enables people to sit at all sides of the table without bumping into it. A number of elements needed to be taken into consideration, such as what shape the table leg and base should be to bear the weight of large wooden tabletops of different formats. The ideal design needed a certain smoothness to compensate for the rigidity of the material, and we settled on an oblong shape for the table leg, with a softer design for the base. Another goal was to make the table leg as small as possible while still giving it enough mass to support the tabletop. The oblong design has a different silhouette depending on the angle it is viewed from. For the base, we chose a shape between a square and a circle, giving it the versatility to harmonize with various tabletops. Since the sand mould leaves behind a rough surface, cast bronze is polished by hand to give it a beautiful finish. This requires a great amount of strength and skill on the artisan’s part, who has to hold the heavy bronze object while polishing it. Through the combination of many manufacturing processes and the artisans’ expertise, we were able to create a unique and versatile table, its weight resting on a single bronze leg.
T-611 dining table
T-612 dining table
T-621 dining table
T-622 dining table
Oak – Soap / Beeswax / Tannin black
Walnut – Beeswax
Ash – Black / Charcoal grey / Snow white / Dark wenge