IKEA has taken the world of cheap furniture by storm, significantly improving the aesthetics of many a young graduate's first apartment. But there's also a disconcerting sameness to the spaces they've shaped. When Barcelona-based multidisciplinary studio AMOO was offered an opportunity to design the furniture for a local concept store, and their work was rejected in favor of using mass-produced IKEA tables, they decided to study the problem in greater detail.
The original design AMOO used was made from lacquered MDF, a wood veneer material that they customized to imitate stone. However, that failed to create a sufficient distinction from IKEA's similar materials, which are often designed to be lightweight so that they can be easily shipped and brought home unassembled by customers.
This advantage of using veneer was irrelevant to AMOO's one-off project. So instead, they decided to use repurposed marble and granite.
The tessellating deign of the final tables, which are called JUANOLA after the similarly diamond-shaped Spanish liquorice pastilles, also need the weight of real stone to work properly.
"Our design needs a heavy material, like marble or granite, to work right and support itself... It also allowed us to work with the marble plates and give it a monolithic look like if they were carved directly in the original block of stone," said AMOO studio's Omar Ornaque. "We think that these combinations are the clue for the visual trick."
They have a triangular base that makes them strong enough to stand alone, but their diamond-shape surfaces interlock with the table's "siblings," making them look even more like the candy.
The side tables are small, measuring 40cm or 16 inches. This increases the strength of the "triangular cantilever" formed by the solid base. When the tables are placed together, they play tricks on the eye, appearing to create three-dimensional forms. The interlocking surfaces and cantilever also create fascinating patterns of negative space underneath the tables.
There's no news yet on whether the JUANOLA tables will one day be mass-produced. AMOO certainly has set their sights on it, depicting the tables in a living room with none other than the 406 Alto Chair. But reclaimed stone is not an easy or cheap material to come by, and it will be interesting to see how far the designers will go to get their IKEA competitors out into the world.