Friday, June 19, 2009

Uncommonly Sustainable

I actually saw the nice folks from UM at both BKLYN DESIGNS and the ICFF. Designer Fran├žois Chambard spotted me at the ICFF before I even noticed their booth and came over, quite graciously, to say hello. I'm fairly certain it was UM's other designer, Colgate Searle, who introduced me to their new piece at BD, however. It's the "C-Beam" table:
It's UM's serious answer to our ecological crisis; it uses all green and recycled materials. But they wanted to get away from the very earthy-crunchy appearance most new green products seen to have, and instead do something more sleek, colorful, and finished. The top is linoleum, which is, in fact, a green product. It was invented in 1860, long before there was any such thing as petrochemistry. When Searle told me what it was, I said "the original recipe?" Nowadays most of what we think of as being linoleum is PVC, which is entirely toxic as many people know. True linoleum, what UM has used, is solidified linseed oil and perfectly sustainable. The structure of their table is mostly MDF, and the legs are cut from a single aluminum beam. Here it is with the aluminum exposed and a red top surface:

As always with UM's work, the detailing is impeccable. With this table, it's the way the legs emerge up through the table top.
Bear in mind that each layer of the "sandwich" has to be cut precisely to accept this protrusion. It draws attention to the design and manufacturing process beautifully and subtly. It makes what might at first glance appear to be a typical kitchen table into a far more interesting piece.

©2009, Ryan Witte

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