tables and desks

Tables and Desks: Angling for Attention: Sebastopol by Coalesse

Mention mathematics and it’s unlikely that creativity is the first thing to pop into one’s mind. But discoveries such as the Golden Ratio and iambic pentameter remind us that throughout history, the study of numbers has yielded innovation in even the artistic realm. Enter Coalesse’s Sebastopol table, an attractive modular piece whose unlimited configurations are the result of designer Emilia Borgthorsdottir’s geometric calculations. It might be overstatement to call her a Pythagoras of our times, but her first piece in the contract market, which won the Best of NeoCon® Gold award in the occasional table category, certainly demonstrates mathematical prowess.

Inspired by the need for versatility

“The inspiration for the tables came from the need,” says Borgthorsdottir, who wanted to host friends and family at her home but lacked sufficient surface area for entertaining groups. “So I thought about how to create a piece that serves this purpose, and how I could take it apart when I
don’t need that big of a table.”

While other modular occasional tables are available, they often don’t offer much flexibility. She sought to remedy this and began playing with different shapes and angles to see what would produce the most variation. This thought process is second nature to the physical therapist–turned–designer, because the healthcare profession concerns itself with assessing the maximum potential of a patient and then formulating a program to achieve it. At the same time, her penchant for problem solving contributed to the puzzle-piecing aspect of such a concept.

Utilitarian can be beautiful, too

The design addresses the needs of today’s lifestyle and work trends, where space is a premium and personnel shift on the fly. Almost trapezoidal in appearance, Sebastopol is an asymmetrical quadrilateral that can be clustered into an infinite number of configurations, such as rectangles or L shapes, and more complex forms like zigzags, pinwheels, and bowties. Borgthorsdottir devised two table shapes that could pull this off: a 23-by-27-inch version and an elongated 18-by-41-inch version. Both come in a 16- or 22-inch height. A shelf underneath provides ample storage for bags, paperwork, and other knickknacks, and can be outfitted with an optional grommet for power access. Coalesse’s PowerPod multi-outlet and accessory-holder fits in it, giving laptop- and smartphone-toting workers a place to plug in right at the table.

“Technology is changing our lives at a faster rate than ever before. This poses new challenges in our interaction with environments and objects,” explains Borgthorsdottir.

Sebastopol speaks to the eye as well, even when used as a standalone table. Classic oak or walnut veneer cover the outer surfaces, making the piece polished enough for office environments yet warm enough for homes; eye-catching glossy laminate on the interior surfaces injects color and contrast. Coalesse, after all, specializes in stylish live/work products.

When it came to aesthetics, the designer might have unconsciously looked to her native Iceland and its unique geography. “I was surrounded by mountains, ocean, and the extraordinary energy of volcanoes,” the designer, who now lives in California, recalls. Those natural wonders seem to be reflected in the laminate palette of Smoky White, Studio Gray, Wrought Iron, Black Pearl, and Liberty Red. As for the shape, she says, “I see the tables, with their strong angular corners and different heights, as iceberg chunks floating in water. Icelandic nature and culture run deep in my core and has shaped who I am.” —Sheila Kim 

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