The lines between living and working are increasingly blurred, as is the furniture designed for each purpose. Big city living means smaller spaces with multifunctional pieces - a desk one day, an entertaining space the next! The Unit Table, designed by David Steiner, addresses our need for versatility in a beautifully simple and elegant design.
The Unit Table was originally created for a temporary exhibition/shop during London Design Festival back in 2014. One of David’s friends was putting on the show and needed a flexible design that could transform the space from day to night – from a place to showcase designs into an inviting supper club.
Come evening, five Unit Tables would be joined to create one long communal table for a themed dinner. This happened for the five days of LDF and each morning they’d simply be separated back out again for the exhibition, where design pieces could be elegantly displayed.
The versatile nature of the Unit Table makes it perfect for this kind of transformation; something David touches on in his design inspiration.
The design itself is simple, sturdy yet lightweight, and fits onto one sheet of 8’x4’ material. The legs were kept vertical and the overhang minimised to allow multiple Units to sit neatly side-by-side. The length of the table is double its width, enabling a range of configurations. It can also be disassembled very quickly and easily for transport and storage.
This latest design iteration includes a few small functional tweaks. We have re-nested the parts to follow the grain direction of birch-faced plywood and the dowel holes have also been repositioned. To give our customers greater versatility, a white laminate version of the Unit Table is now available and we also offer it in three standard sizes: 1200mm x 600mm, 1400mm x 700mm and 1600mm x 800mm.
We caught up with David in his East London studio to discuss his design process, inspiration and love of collecting things!
Opendesk: Tell us a little about your background and what you’re currently working on.
David: I grew up in the north of England and moved to London 12 years ago to study Product Design at Central Saint Martins, later going on to Design Products at the RCA. I am now working with Opendesk three days a week, having been involved at various times in the past through working with my brother Joni [Opendesk Co-Founder].
I have a small studio nearby, near the railway arches in Bethnal Green - it’s right by where I lived when I first moved to London. There’s a rooftop and I get access to a great workshop with a range of tools and machinery. When I’m not at Opendesk, that’s where you’ll find me working on my own products, or for clients – usually furniture and homeware retailers.
Opendesk: How does designing for a CNC machine impact you?
David: Designing for CNC imposes a lot of parameters on a project, which can be helpful to generate ideas but can be equally limiting at times – as the cutting is a largely two-dimensional process that is then assembled into a three-dimensional product. CNC is inherently a replicable process but there is still a lot of variation in the way Opendesk makers work, so there’s the added challenge of ensuring that consistency can be maintained in different countries. Just because something can be made by CNC, doesn’t mean that it will work as an Opendesk product and that’s all part of what makes the process fascinating to me.
Opendesk: Tell us something most people don’t know about you.
David: I collect quite a lot of things and they’re not all that easy to correlate or categorise. Among them are clocks, Braun products, spoons, measuring devices, miniature things, glassware, paperweights, pens, tools and even staplers! I also have quite a few bottle openers around my studio, one of which I designed myself.
It’s sometimes hard to say why these things capture my interest – I usually find something appealing because of the way it’s been made or because it has an interesting function. Or it’s something I’m just drawn to and the reason is quite intangible! I always keep an eye out for objects and makers when I’m travelling, especially examples of indigenous craft or things that relate to the customs of a particular place, and I see design as a distillation of all the objects, places, and people that we experience.
Opendesk: What’s next for you?
David: I’m working on an installation and some of my own products, and I have a few exciting designs launching on Opendesk over the next couple of months. Stay tuned!
Photography by Peter Guenzel and Joanna Wlaźlak