Design as Micro-Architecture

by Design Miami

3 incredible table designs at the intersection of architecture, technology, and craft


Photo © Maison Gerard

In the world of design, what’s more fundamental than a table? Any flat surface mounted on a base with the capacity to elevate our belongings and activities above ground level meets the definition.

Every once in a while, though, when we’re lucky, designers approach this most basic, ancient assignment with startling artistry and ingenuity. Scroll on to discover three such examples.

Though designed for different purposes, these striking tables are extraordinary in their synthesis of deconstructivist principles, advanced technological processes, and masterful craftsmanship.

Each in their own way, these functional yet sculptural collectible designs have a commanding presence, like magnificent micro-architectures for the home.

Dune Dining Table by Zaha Hadid for David Gill Gallery

Photo © David Gill Gallery

The late, dearly-missed Pritzker Prize-winning architect Zaha Hadid—the “queen of the curve,” as she was known—forever changed the design world when she launched her limited-edition Dune Formations in 2007 in collaboration with London’s David Gill Gallery. Inspired by the undulating forms of sand dunes, the collection revealed the remarkable potential of 3-D computer modeling to bring complex geometries to life in our everyday environments.


Photos courtesy of David Gill Gallery

“First presented during the Venice Biennale in 2007,” David Gill Gallery tells us, “the Dune Table by Zaha Hadid formed the centerpiece of the critically acclaimed Dune Formations series, marking a vital moment in the extension of her design vocabulary. Demonstrating Hadid’s mastery of form and space, each piece is characterized by a sense of weightlessness and fluidity, challenging archetypal forms and redefining the surrounding space. David Gill Gallery and Hadid went on to create the Liquid Glacial collection in 2012 and UltraStellar collection in 2016.”

Sculpted by machine and lacquered by hand, the Dune Table is a dining table unlike any that came before it. The tabletop surface and supporting legs are integrated in one continuous, arching and twisting form, condensing the otherworldly quality of Hadid’s iconic architecture down to the domestic scale.

Janus Coffee Table by Ayala Serfaty for Maison Gerard

Photo © Maison Gerard

Represented by Maison Gerard in New York, Tel Aviv-based artist-designer Ayala Serfaty has, since the 1990s, attracted an international following with her alluring, hand-sculpted lighting and furniture inspired by nature’s underlying, cellular structures. Nearly a decade ago, she began to envision ways to express her signature, organic design language in the ancient material bronze. Last year, after intense research and forging a close collaboration with a master fabricator, Serfaty achieved her vision with Janus, a dazzlingly biomorphic table that feels at once lacy and solid, transparent and substantial.

“Ayala Serfaty named her new collection of sculptural tables after the two-faced Roman god of time and transition, which seems fitting given the moment we are in now,” Maison Gerard explains. “Janus is the latest manifestation of Serfaty's ongoing research into natural structures and organic abstractions. It is inspired by what appears to be opposites—past and future, lightness and stability, refinement and spaciousness.”

The Janus Table’s delicate form was realized thanks to computer modeling and 3-D printing. Yet the design feels more like a soul-stirring product of nature, too intricately organic to be human-made.

Arch Desk by Jumandie Seys for Atelier Ecru Gallery

Photo © Jumandie Seys; courtesy of Atelier Ecru Gallery

In contrast to Hadid’s futuristic aesthetic and Serfaty’s biomorphism, emerging Belgian artist-designer Jumandie Seys employs computer modeling to achieve classical purity. For his recent Arch collection for Atelier Ecru Gallery—which includes multifunctional side tables and one-of-a-kind monumental desks—Seys deconstructed the geometries of the archetypal architectural arch. He then meticulously handcrafts the deceptively clear-cut, computer-generated designs in steel, leather, and lacquer.


Photos © Atelier Ecru Gallery

“Seys is manipulating the material in such a way that he adds a visual and tactile tension to his design,” according to Atelier Ecru Gallery. “This is an artistic process, creating imperfections that are unique characteristics to the piece. The curved symmetric structure may look simple in form, but it’s the finish… that is extremely complex.”

Connecting the craftsmanship of the past with the technology of the future, Seys’ creates highly refined micro-architectural structures perfectly attuned to the tastes of today’s collectible design audiences. The forms are timeless, and the materials will only get better with time.