Floating table looks like solid blocks of wood. A closer look reveals a matrix of wooden cubes that appears to float. When you touch the table, the effect changes again, and the table’s blocks move. Wood, magnets and steel cables are the secret here.
Its name should be taken with a pinch of salt. The Float Table doesn’t really float, though the effect it creates is very similar. The design, by New York based RockPaperRobot, comprises a matrix of wooden cubes that are connected by very thin, high-tensile, steel cables. These are almost hidden from view – you only notice them if you look for them. Together with the head-sized cubes, they create a loose tensegrity structure of blocks.
Touch the table and its cubes react, giving way slightly. Press down on the design and the whole table will sag in response. The physics is simple: give a structure a degree of freedom and it will use this freedom if the forces acting upon it demand this. Clever design ensures that this happens in a controlled fashion. Reversed polarised magnets integrated into every block keep the individual cubes from touching each other.
The table comes in two versions: a matrix of 3 x 3 x 3 cubes, which measures just under 50cm on each side, and the coffee table, a longer version at 3 x 3 x 6 cubes.
The wood used in the design varies. The type of wood shown is similar to one of the most popular end-grain wood veneers in the Materia collection. The marbled wood has the effect of increasing the luxurious feel of the blocks, making the table seem more massive. The juxtaposition of this ‘weight’ with the apparent floating of the elements is what makes the table interesting.
The effect is made clear in this video.
More on the Float Table creators can be found on their website, which also has details on some of the designers’ other originals.