Ikea’s Björkudden table is one of the more basic mass-manufactured models out there on the market, and to most, it is what it is: four legs and a flat top made of solid birch. On assignment for his Design Products program at the Royal College of Art in London, designer Mauricio Affonso took the wood from a single Björkudden and transformed it into Fan, a custom, shape-shifting piece that bears little resemblance to its predecessor.
The multi-layered, ever-so-slightly meta task set out by RCA platform leaders Sofia Lagerkvist from Swedish design group Front and architecture critic Kieran Long was to “make a ‘Table out of a Table’ that had something to say about tables,” Affonso explains to Co.Design. “Furniture can be quite limited sometimes. I wanted to move away from the table as a static object and create one that can spontaneously adapt to play a new role in the fabric of a situation.” He achieved this with a series of unique accordion-like slats, which expand and contract to create a rectangular or circular surface.
Despite their obvious visual appeal, however, what lies beneath truly allows Fan to function as it does. “The real trick is in the base, which slides in and out in a telescopic manner and swings outwards to create the structure and support needed for the top to fan out,” Affonso says. “It’s an excellent example of minimal materials and maximal engineering.” This smart solution enables the spindly perimeter to ably support the weight of your dinner plate and your elbows (if you’re eating in casual company, of course). He is currently sourcing bamboo to recreate Fan without the need for a trip to the Swedish superstore.