'Cinderella' Table, by Jeroen Verhoeven, 2005-6
Jeroen Verhoeven's table is a reinterpretation of Dutch design traditions through the means of modern technology.
The Cinderella Table is an exploration of the possibilities of CAD-CAM (computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing). Objects are increasingly designed digitally, on screen, and the files that describe them in two dimensions on the computer are the same files that are used to control the machines that make the objects too. Because human intervention, interpretation of a design and handcraft are omitted, fault-free three-dimensional versions of digitally designed objects are possible. CAD-CAM would appear to negate the individualism of craft objects. But Verhoeven wanted to use CAD-CAM as (in his words) a 'new modern craft' because he felt it was 'hiding a craft' within it.
For the form of the table Verhoeven was inspired by 17th and 18th century archetypal shapes of tables and commodes that he found in the library of the Stedlijk Museum in Amsterdam, because he regarded this period as the highpoint of furniture craftsmanship. He simplified their outlines, then merged them together in a computer to create a fluid three-dimensional form from two-dimensional drawings.
This process took three months to perfect. The virtual design was 'sliced' and each of the 57 slices, each 80mm thick (a total of 741 layers of plywood), was fabricated by CNC (computer numerically controlled) cutting machines, working on three, and sometimes five axes. Each slice was cut from the front and from the back to perfect the curves and undercuts, pushing the boundaries of the technology. All the slices were assembled and the entire object, which is a hollow plywood form, was finished by hand.
Verhoeven said 'It's about attention to detail and the possibility to make something unique with a machine that is normally used for mass production.'
The object is clearly the result of computer aided design, but is also clearly hand-finished. It alludes to grandeur through the outlines of historically grand furniture in its profiles, yet it is also economical and humble, an unadorned plywood shell with no applied surface. These contradictions, or juxtapositions, are commonly found in recent Dutch design.