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When Craftsmanship Meets Technology - Commission for a 16ft Illuminated Dining Table

When Craftsmanship Meets Technology - Commission for a 16ft Illuminated Dining Table

When Craftsmanship Meets Technology - Commission for a 16ft Illuminated Dining Table

 

The school shares a workshop with the commercial arm of Williams and Cleal. This augments the learning of our students, who are able to observe our master craftsmen working on a range of different commissions, or to access expert help from our furniture makers in addition our tutor’s time.

Often a commission comes along that breaks the mould of regular work. It demands a combination of technology, craftsmanship and use of alternative and modern materials – and involves a good deal of careful design, research, and expert collaboration to bring the piece together.  These commissions make excellent case studies for interested students, particularly when the processes that we use are at the forefront of developments in industry.

Our recent commission for a 16ft long colour changing illuminated dining table has been just such a project. The client’s specification detailed a dining table with glass legs that would make the table appear to be floating. For the table surface, they wanted a purple eucalyptus veneer with two central glass panels, on which an ‘ethereal’ swirl design could be illuminated by hidden LED’S. The purple veneer was chosen for its rich colour that by contrast would enhance the lit glass panels.

The glass elements of this table required us to work at the leading edge of glass technology. Taking advantage of new laser systems in Europe, we subsurface engraved the clients chosen design into two huge 1580mm glass inserts for the table surface. In subsurface engraving, the lasers are focused below the surface of the glass to create small fractures. This makes visible structures appear inside the glass whilst leaving the surface free of any abrasion. Cerion lasers create four or five layers inside of the glass, as opposed to just one layer on the surface seen in normal Co2 engraving. Therefore there are greater points within the glass to pick up the light, and it creates a cleaner etching to minimize distortion of the design.

Similarly, the floating glass legs were designed and sourced in collaboration with specialist manufacturers in Europe. Superior technology enabled us to source the correct clear structural glass, and to cut the table leg design with unrivalled precision and accuracy from Jane’s drawings.

Williams and Cleal sourced and installed all the LED electrics for the table illumination, and it took a good few tests to achieve a level of illumination that we were happy with. Achieving the optimal lighting level, required the right power of LED’s matched with the position of the LED strips on the glass. We had to find the right distance between diffusion panels and the LED strips hidden in the table recess - to blend out spotlighting effects otherwise seen at the edge of the table. It was important to the client that the lighting source was not visible at the edges of the table -  in order to enhance the magic of the engraving being illuminated.

Jane’s design included a central column underneath the table concealing the LED technology. Williams and Cleal rigged up the technology that enabled our client to change the colour of their table to millions of colour variations by voice command, and by manual control of a colour wheel on a mobile phone app.

The client’s colour preferences were of soft whites, pinks and golds and we were able to preset these choices and store them for their convenience.

The table surface was made here at the workshops from a core of purple Valchromat – chosen for its consistency and density across both the board and colour. It was veneered with Tabu Purple eucalyptus veneer as chosen by our client.

The finished result is an elegant showpiece dining table, with a unique level of interactivity afforded to dinner party hosts and guests in the changing colour features of the glass.

It’s been a pleasure to make another commission that draws together new processes in materials, components and technology – and a fine example to our students how design can incorporate these different elements to make a truly unique piece.

See our colour changing table in action here!