Main Project Aesthetics: Folding Coffee Table

Since I have wanted a coffee table for a long time, I am committing to my idea of a coffee table with folding legs. Although it is intimidating, I know I will learn a lot through the entire process.


My original idea classifies under the Modern Movement. More specifically, Minimalism. The concept originated in the late 1950s when artists began focusing on the shapes and materials in front of them. Any concept of abstract representation was replaced with the depiction of what that object is in actuality but in simple terms. It encourages the viewer to focus on “the medium from which it is made and the form.” Minimalist art is summarized as “order, simplicity, and harmony” [1].

Untitled 1965, reconstructed 1971 Robert Morris born 1931 Purchased 1972 [1]
Two Open Modular Cubes/Half-Off 1972 Sol LeWitt 1928-2007 Purchased 1974 [1]

Table in Minimalist Aesthetic

In order to incorporate it into my aesthetic, I plan on using simple geometric shapes for my table. The oval table top will stand on four straight legs that emerge downward and outward at a slight angle. There will be no additional support trusses to avoid adding mass to the top of the table. Instead, to insert the hinges at which the legs will fold, I will carve into the piece of wood to hide them seamlessly. When the legs are bent, an additional space will be carved to keep the top of the leg from damaging the piece of wood. All of this ideation is based on whether or not I am able to find a piece of wood thick enough. For now, I think 2-3” will be a good amount of space. I do, however, have to look at the sizes of the hinges available to me.

Minimalist concept sketch

Other Aesthetics to Consider

Although I want my table to be clean, sleek, and elegant, I realize that minimalism does not represent me. Even though my vision has always been minimalist, I now realize that it would not fit in my personal space because everything I own is full of color and randomness. To expand on my vision, I am considering the Steampunk Aesthetic which I covered on my first aesthetic exploration, or a rustic textured aesthetic.

With Steampunk in mind, I would still like to avoid going over the top with eccentric industrial details. Instead I would rather conserve the wooden, oval top and exchange the wooden legs with copper pipes. After looking at some images, I see that many Steampunk coffee tables have wheels instead of stationary legs. As a second plan, if I do struggle to execute the hinges, I can always resort to putting my table on wheels. That way it will be easy to move around and still interesting to look at.

Dyess Industrial Coffee Table with Tray Top [2]
Corinne Coffee Table [3]

On the rustic end of the spectrum, it would be nice to use a thick, textured piece of wood. If I am lucky enough to find some kind of tree trunk I would scrap the addition of a dynamic component and make the table anyways. I would be glad to come up with a different concept if I end up making such a wonderful table out of a trunk. For example, the one in the image below.

Tropical Teak Root Hardwood Coffee Table [4]

Based on other online searches, a table that matches my idea of rustic is the one below. It has the exposed knots and cracks which give it a natural feeling but it still looks strong and durable.

Reclaimed Wood Coffee Table [5]

New Ideas

Taking these two new aesthetics into consideration, I feel highly encouraged to use copper legs instead of wooden for two reasons. One, I do not feel confident in my skill to carve four identical legs out of wood. And two, upon folding the legs, the thinner pipes will fit together more easily under the table since they are not as bulky as wood would be.

The second modification I would like to make is an alteration to the shape of the table top. Even though my heart has been fully set on an oval table for a long time, I would rather the table has an interesting eye catching appeal to it. after going through some iterative sketches, I think the most feasible shape to draw is a “snowboard-like” hourglass shape (top shape in the image below). It is oval-shaped in its nature but it is still different. Given that the piece of wood is big enough, when the table is finished, two people should be able to sit on the floor across from each other in the middle and still have room to play a board game per say.

Concept sketches. I will approach the top shape for my coffee table.



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3 Comments. Leave new

  • […] Aesthetic: Aesthetic Roots: […]

  • Hannah Walsh
    March 1, 2020 7:52 pm

    I think your backup plan of using wheels instead of folding legs is really thought out. You won’t have to undo anything you’ve already built, so you should be able to stay on schedule. Have you looked into different hinges? I’m imagining the plastic folding table legs/hinges, but with copper pipes. I love this idea because often coffee tables can be bulky and heavy, and these add a lot of utility to the standard coffee table

    • Nicole Leon-Molina
      March 4, 2020 8:21 pm

      Hi Hannah! As of now I haven’t looked much into hinges but I was thinking of a metal hinge that can support both the leg and the pipe. And yes, the goal is to make it look light and simple. Thank you for the support 🙂


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