When we visited the metal-casting factory in Takaoka City in Toyama Prefecture, the workers were in the middle of a process pouring red melted bronze into a sand mold. The bronze, which they were scooping up and pouring into the inlet of mold, was bubbling like an active volcano’s crater.
This process of pouring melted metal seemed to me like a battle between heat and metal. I remember the specific odor that wafted through the quiet, dim factory, and that it would be difficult to breathe for someone not used to such a place. After a few hours, they broke the sand mold, which had been placed inside a metal box that was still hot, and from inside there appeared a solid metal lump with some sand on its surface. Hot water vapor billowed up from the sand onto the faces of the artisans without mercy.
This factory casts various items, from large bronze statues to metal signage and artworks by famous sculptors. We often find inspiration for what we want to make after seeing the scenes where products are being made. I thought that if we could make use of the factory’s casting technique for furniture making, we would be able to realize an unprecedentedly beautiful metal product. Because bronze is higher in specific gravity than light metals such as aluminum, the entire weight would be heavier, even with a small size.
Utilizing this characteristic, we came up with the idea of making a table base that supports a bigger top panel with a small leg. By having a single leg support the entire table at its center, we could create a table that allows the user to sit at any position without feeling discomfort.
We discussed how the shapes of supporting pillar, base and top panel base should be to realize such a table. The pillar and the base would have to provide firm support so that the top panel could be large, wooden and either round or square in shape. Also, in terms of design, we thought softness would work well, to offset the impression of the hardness of the metal, and decided to use an ellipse shape for the pillar, and a shape emphasizing softness for the base.
Furthermore, we wanted to make the pillar as small as possible while firmly supporting the top panel. For the pillar, we used an ellipse shape so that the thickness and appearance change depending on the viewing angle and viewpoint. For the base, we used a shape somewhere between square and round so that it can work with a top panel either round or square in shape.
As cast bronze still has a casting surface from the sand mold, the artisans finally polish the surface beautifully by hand. This process requires both physical strength and technique, even for skilled artisans, because they need to polish it while lifting the heavy bronze. Thanks to a number of processes and the skilled technique of the artisans, we have realized a single-bronze-leg table that provides an unprecedented and novel presence, letting you sit comfortably from any position.