What is a Tensegrity Table?

The Double Deployable Tensegrity Table is a table made from rods and elastic cord. The table's stand inverts into either a concave or convex shape -- line several up to create all kinds of cool tables.

The Credenza Arrangement

How does the Double Deployable table work?

The table stand is a tensegrity structure! Read more about tensegrity structures at Wikipedia, learn how to build them here, and learn how to design them in Hugh Kenner's excellent book!

To understand how this table works, watch these movies of the design acting in a rudimentary physics modeler. The table stand switches back and forth between types of supporting structure:

About the table's design.

The "doubly deployable" table isn't meant to look like a typical tensegrity sculpture. The table works at the scale of furniture, intentionally designed with 4mm diameter rubber tendons and matching 4mm diameter steel rods to make the composition feel balanced and unassuming.

Pop the stand into a concave shape to sit around a table-for-two, or arrange several concave tables into a long conference table with ample leg room. With a quick tug, the base structure springs into a convex shape for a display table or to nest with convex bases to make a balanced credenza.

To learn more about tensegrity structures, we recommend a quick search for Kenneth Snelson's work. We contacted him after submitting this design to the ACADIA 2011 Design + Fabrication Competition, and he was kind enought to send along thoughtful words of encouragement.

The Base's Geometry

Where can I get one!

The table is still in a protoyping phase of development. Please check back here soon for pre-ordering information! Or write us an email if you would like to express other interest in the table.

A Base Detail Connection
A Base Detail Connection

About the table's Fabrication.

The fabrication process for the table is pretty cool. First, elements of a jig are laser-cut from any scrap flat stock. After the jig is assembled, rubber tubing is gently wrapped around the combs of the jig. A second pass of the laser-cutter creates all the required tension members ("tendons") for the table base. (All those steps are illustrated below.) Finally, standard jewelry clasps are clamped on the tubing to ready it for assembly.

The compression members for the base are fabricated in a similar way. In total 108 steel rods, 234 rubber tendons, 468 necklace clamps, and one sheet of plexiglass go into the table's construction. And coffee.

The Base's Geometry

How it is Assembled.

The assembly process for the table requires care. First, rods of the same level (and thus length) a bundled together. The bunch is twisted to rotate out the rod ends. Then tendons are strung between the tops of those rods. Next, tendons are attached between the tops and bottoms of rods.

At this point, another assembly (from a different level) is stacked on top of the first. The Final step is to attach the last tendons that hold these levels together. This process was adapted from a similar process in MAKE 06.

The Base's Geometry

About the Table's Designers - Professor Farzana Gandhi

Farzana Gandhi, LEED AP, is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Architecture at the New York Institute of Technology, where she has taught introductory and advanced architecture design studios as well as drawing seminars for over 4 years. This past year, she taught a Thesis Design Studio focused on performative parametric design and research. Farzana is also Coordinator of the Visualization Sequence, acting to re-develop the curriculum in light of emerging digital technologies and contemporary fabrication techniques. Since 2009, Farzana has acted as Director of the NYIT Exploring Architecture in Manhattan Program, a summer program for high school students and mid-career professionals interested in pursuing a career in architecture.

Farzana is also principal of FG Design Studio, an independent platform for architectural design, competitions and research pushing innovation within socially conscious and sustainable thought. Farzana is interested in solutions that pose critical questions and analyze cultural, social, and environmental implications, thereby revealing new possibilities for the way people interact with each other as well as with the built environment. She recently built and installed a winning proposal for [spot], a national design competition as part of Design Philadelphia Design Week.

Farzana holds a Masters of Architecture with Distinction from the Harvard Graduate School of Design and a Bachelor of Arts in Architecture from the University of Pennsylvania. You can learn more about her at farzanagandhi.com.

About the Table's Designers - Professor Jason Van Nest

Jason Van Nest is a licensed architect working in New York City. He is an Associate Professor of Architectural Building Technology at the New York Institute of Technology, and a BIM consultant with Mobilis Modeling.

Jason specializes in applying new technologies to several fields of design. After learning to design with JAVA and Processing in graduate school, he has applied that experience with early-adoption Building Information Modeling strategies in practice, and Rhinoscript and Grasshopper tools for specialized structures. He was awarded a MacDowell Colony Residential Fellowship in 2008 to design software to help architects invent new types of building cladding. He is currently using that research to develop a new type of roofing device, called the SodaBIB, to use discarded water bottles as a building material. (Learn more at SodaBIB.org.)

Jason holds a Masters of Architecture from Yale University, and is licensed to practice in several locations. You can learn more about Jason at jasonvannest.com.