It is the the first collaboration between the Frensh designer duo Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec and the Finnish design company Artek. Based on a simple, yet intelligent component, the Kaari Collection comprises rectangular and round tables in two sizes as well as a desk, a wall console, a small round shelf and larger shelves.
Chairs are mobile objects: they have legs, arms and a back. Tables, on the other hand, are architectural elements: static, stable, unmoving. While there have been hundreds of memorable chairs, only a few tables have made design history. In addition, since the middle of the previous century, the materials that have proven suitable for tables have changed very little.
However, is a table really such a simple entity? For a small child it can turn into a house. Its typical social function is to gather people together while also maintaining distance between them. The table is a fundamental part of the home, so basic and essential that in the era of modernism, when the chair was significantly altered and new typologies emerged, only minor changes were made to the table.
Given these circumstances, it is not easy to develop a new table â€“ let alone a table system â€“ that is both practical and unique. Yet this was the aim of Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec with Kaari (â€˜archâ€™ in Finnish), their novel table system for Artek.
The design task was to create a product that was both suited to Artek and simultaneously new â€“ hence without making explicit reference to historic Artek products. The design brothers developed a number of ideas. At the initial presentation, one proposal already stood out: an innovative table leg, or more precisely, a systematic construction for legs that could support a wide variety of different tabletops: small and large, round and rectangular, low and high. Soon it became evident that the same system could also be used to construct wall-mounted objects such as single shelves on brackets and entire shelf units.
The principle is extremely simple: the vertical load is supported by a wooden part. Bent steel banding is used to provide elegant and transparent diagonal support. The interplay between the solid vertical board and the metal band gives the base a surprisingly light appearance and creates a distinctive linear silhouette.
Both wood and steel banding are traditional materials and a fundamental part of the Artek heritage â€“ however, they have never before been combined in this way. Linoleum and glossy HPL, which were chosen as surface materials, absorb or reflect light in very different ways. As the tables are used over the course of time, these materials will develop an attractive patina.
In addition to the material, the system concept is also prevalent in the history of Artek. Aalto already used the L-leg to support a variety of tables, chairs, stools and containers. The Bouroullecs combine for their support solid wood with steel banding to create a column base. The same principle is also applied to wall-mounted tables and shelves. Despite this affinity with the Artek tradition, however, Kaari has found an aesthetic of its own, making it distinguishable from classic Artek designs.