• Transitional Fields Table

    ALEK SA Studio (Aleksandrina RIZOVA), "Transitional Fields Table." Detail.

    suckerPUNCH: Describe your project.

    ALEK SA Studio (Aleksandrina RIZOVA): The table was conceived as a bespoke piece of furniture for a private client in Chelsea, London. The concept was to bring the tectonics of nature into their home whilst also being at the forefront of fabrication and design.

    Made from CNC-milled walnut top and delicate 3-D prototyped legs, the “Transitional Fields” table is dynamic, structurally challenging, and inspiring. The project is envisaged as a spatial construct informed by the extensive use of emerging digital fabrication tools.

    “Transitional Fields” becomes a simulated natural formation which blurs the boundaries between the natural and the man-made. The legs form a hyper-efficient lean structure with minimum weight capable of carrying a heavy piece of natural wood on top.The table performs in a natural-synthetic mode emphasised through the materiality between soft and hard, light and heavy.

    The design was carefully crafted on the computer allowing for greater precision and perfect fit between the 3-D prototyped legs and the CNC milled top. The use of 3D modelling allowed for easy future design modifications and the potential to produce at various sizes upon request.

    A 3-D file of the top was sent to a CNC 3-axis milling machine which produced an identical copy of the 3-D model from a solid laminated walnut block. The top was machined from two sides to achieve the 3-dimensional undulating surface on the bottom. The machining took only 6 hours.

    The legs were 3-D printed using SLS rapid prototype machine to its maximum possible size. The 3-D prototype structure consists of 7 components that are seamlessly joined together through precise detailing.

    The 3-D model and digital methods of production allowed for great accuracy in the final pieces. The legs were left untreated while the top was carefully hand sanded and finished with a special varnish. The result is a bespoke side table that is not only practical but also emotionally and spatially charged.

    sP: What or who influenced this project?
    AR: The “Transitional Fields” table was inspired by the phenomenon of forest glade. In this dramatic moment, where light pierces through the trees, a natural yet digitally inspired piece emerges from the landscape. The organic qualities of the table resemble natural branch formations. The piece is light, fragile, and ephemeral. It consists of a complex structural network of interlaced elements that together create an elegant, coherent ensemble.

    sP: What were you reading/listening to/watching while developing this project?
    AR: Reading: Achim Menges, AD 82, no. 2, “Material Computation: Higher Integration in Morphogenetic Design”; Cecil Balmond), Number Nine: The Search for the Sigma Code and Element; Robin Evans, The Projective Cast: Architecture and its Three Geometries; Carla Lind, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Furnishings. Listening to: London Grammar; Cafe del Mar; and The Temptations. Watching: Oblivion; Her; Samsara; and The Blue Planet.

    sP: Whose work is currently on your radar?
    AR: Neri Oxman, Kairo Baden-Powell, Chris Wise, Cecil Balmond, Zaha Hadid, Vitra, Robert Scott, UID Architects

    Additional credits and links:

    Fabrication by the following companies, in London:
    3D-Printing: 3DPrint UK, London
    CNC-milling: 3D CNC, London

    More projects by ALEK SA studio, London at []

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    • Jim Lewis Says:

      Beautiful table. I like the bone-like delicacy of the legs, and the way the top blends with them, using two different digital processes. An insightful idea, beautifully modled.

      However, is it too much to ask for craftsmanship? The milling of the underside shows machine marks and the whitish haze associated with router-torn wood fibers. A craftsman would probably start with scrapers and perhaps finish with sandpaper, and spend the extra 8-12 hours it takes to finish the wood on the underside of the top. Plus the additional time to do the same on the upper surface. Why? because the physical perfection would elevate the design. Instead of artifacts of machining, you would see deeply into the grain of the wood and perceive it as a fully natural object, cloudlike and soft yet dense and durable.

      I make a point of this because it’s easy to say that the digital modeling is fast and easy and hands don’t have to touch it, that hand work is old school. However, if you don’t take the time, you get less than you are bargaining for, much less than the table could be.

      For instance, the Sacred Heart Church/ Edinburg TX altar table on my website took about 60 hours of 5-axis milling to make the bases, and also about 60 hours of sanding by hand and machine. You wouldn’t appreciate the shape nearly as much without the finishing touches. The combination makes a table that is difficult to pass by without touching, and eminently satisfying to caress.

      With its freer form, yours could be even more so.

    • SQUARE Says:

      Totally agree with Jim’s comment.