Topographic Tables: 12 Terrain-Inspired Furniture Designs

Meandering rivers, icebergs and a deep blue abyss are invoked in layers of blue-green glass, burled wood and cast concrete and translated into tables. Ranging from self-taught artists crafting each piece by hand to high-end designers using precision laser-cutting machinery, these three sculptors and furniture makers take inspiration from the natural world to make practical pieces that mimic topography.

River Collection by Greg Klassen

The naturally wavy edges of discarded lumber, considered too imperfect for standard usage in construction and furniture, are aligned just right and joined with strips of pale blue-green glass to become watery landscapes.

Taking inspiration from the beautiful natural scenery of his home in the Pacific Northwest, theologist-turned-furniture-maker Greg Klassen sources his wood at construction sites and from fallen trees in the forest. “I Love the idea of taken a discarded tree and giving it a new life,” he says.

“The collection is inspired by the exciting edges and vivid grains found in the trees sustainably taken from the banks of the Nooksack River that twists below my studio.”

Designs include the striking River Console, with its undulating ribbon of water, the Pond Table carved from a massive maple trunk, and Folded River, an asymmetrical L-shaped design in which the glass trails down one side.

Broken Liquid: Glass Sculptures by Ben Young

The deep teal waves of the ocean are evoked when one sheet of barely blue-tinted glass is laid atop another in succession. Self-taught artist, surfer and boat builder Ben Young was “inspired to capture the perfection and raw power of the sea and of the perfect wave.”

Having grown up in the Bay of Plenty in New Zealand and currently residing in Sydney, Australia, Young has plenty of stunning scenery to draw from. Each sculpture is hand-drawn, hand-cut and handcrafted layer upon layer without the use of any high-tech equipment.

Some pieces are made of nothing but glass while others, like the New Lands and Fjord tables, are combined with cast concrete to create more complex and literal landscapes.

“I love watching the two dimensional shapes evolve into three-dimensional creations and the different way the light plays inside the glass. I love the liquid qualities the glass brings with it. It enables me to play with lighting and watch the glass react.”

The Abyss by Duffy London

Noting that staggered layers of glass sheets produce the effect of gazing down into the sea, designer Christopher Duffy of Duffy London envisioned an oceanic topography that steps from shallow sandy seashore into a deep blue abyss.

“I wanted to use this effect to replicate a real piece of the earth’s sea bed,” he says. “Like a mythical power had lifted a perfect rectangle straight from the earth’s crust to use as his personal ornament.”

Duffy’s design team spent a year experimenting in their London studio with sculpted glass, Perspex and wood arranged in a 3D representation of a geological map.

The outer edges of the wood are sculpted as well, making the table truly feel as if it were cut from the earth and miniaturized for the viewer’s pleasure.

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