When’s the last time you had deep thoughts about a piece of furniture? Stephen Molloy and Gunnar Rönsch, the Berlin-based duo behind the Fundamental Group, engineer their intricate work to inspire contemplation and encourage a closer look. Atlas is the latest evolution in a series that explores the unique design potential of basic cubes as building blocks for more complex creations.
They achieve the mindful effect they’re after by paying particular attention to the artistry of construction. “It’s about the traces of a man’s hands on the piece,” Molloy tells Co.Design. “Clever people often overlook the importance of the tactile, of experiencing things with the hands. We want our furniture to trigger the mind, which in a way is easy. But we also use craftsmanship to trigger more basic ways of knowing, which is the bigger challenge.”
Traditional wood glues were used to fix each cube to the next on three different planes, giving Atlas “an intrinsic stability.” The variegated table is completely flush when viewed from above, save for a few perfect oaken points that stick up–points which can be removed to reveal small, custom openings. “We left some of the fill-in cubes out, then had pyramids made that fit into the gaps,” Molloy says. “Ultimately you can finish off the table yourself, plugging those into the gaps to create a totally smooth surface. It’s the non-finito effect; Atlas doesn’t stop growing the day you take the delivery. And of course kids just love it.”
From below, the geometric topography is almost mesmerizing in its perfect repetition. How did they get it so precise? Molloy is emphatic about the iterative process. “LOTS of models,” he says. “It’s often as much about where the table wants to go as where we want to push it.”