AI WorkFurniture

The Folding Table



A primary idea behind all AI WorkFurniture is that the environment should rapidly and easily configure to the requirements of the user - work processes should not be forced or truncated because of arbitrary limitations created by the furniture.


How a space is setup has a profound - and not often understood - impact on the dynamics of the process that takes place within that space. How people will interact, in this case, with or without a table - or a table of various shapes - is radically different.


Adjust-ability has to be accomplished in discreet time frames: what can be done in a few seconds, a minute or two, several minutes, an hour or a day is critical to effective use. These frames have to be congruent with the value of the task to be accomplished or the user is not likely to invest in the actions necessary to reorganize the space. Setting task lighting, as example, has to be done with the move of a hand. Even general and effect lighting has to be accomplished quickly else it will stay the way it is no matter if optimum or not. Putting a table up or down is, perhaps, worth a minute or two. Reorganizing the space between several individual work areas to create a team work area may be worth a five-minute investment. Redoing a few thousand square feet of work space, a few hours for a few people. Otherwise, once set up, the space will not change much.


This is the idea of it - however, to get the things to actually function this way is another matter. Contrary to what the large manufactures seem to be thinking, putting wheels on light weight versions of old designs will not provide the necessary functionality. Where are you going to roll it to?


This simple round table has to be light enough to be easily taken apart, folded and put away, heavy enough to be substantial when in use, strong enough to withstand years of knocking about and still look good. The hardware has to work again and again after years of use. Sounds easy. Well, in this case easy enough after 18 years of refinement.


The pieces: the top and the legs folded. Each can be easily handled by one person. When stored vertically against a wall, they present an attractive pattern.
The legs are unfolded and set in place. Any set of legs can go with any table top and there is no requirement to orient the legs to hardware pieces in order to lock the top to the legs.
The hinge allows flat folding and opens to 90 degrees. The hinge center pin is extended and threaded for attaching to the top. Note that the finish of the table is the same on all pieces - top & bottom. No unsightly hardware nor weak spots to break.
The top ready for setting. The “screw” is built into the top and cannot be misplaced. The 4 small grooves are for the corresponding hard rubber nodes on the legs bearing surfaces.
The wood screw piece is its own handle that providing significant grip and leverage for firmly attaching top to legs. In addition, it provides openings for wiring if required. A utilitarian pieces become ornament and reinforces the grammar of the foundation II series.
The final assembly. Simple, attractive, strong, long-lasting and easy to assemble.
Often, seating and space of more than can be occomodated by one table is required yet it is still desirable to avoid the implisid structure of square tables linked together. For this cicumstance, we created a center piece table that allows several rounds of both sizes we make to dock. This creates a large table that can be configured in many differet ways and facilitate one dialog or many different dialogs at once.






One one level these tables are are a simple product. They are, however, the result of nearly 20 years of continuous development. The basic idea has remained the same - many alternatives have been tried. Every version of this table has been sold and used extensively. The product - like all AI WorkFurniture - has been extensively field tested by real clients in real working conditions. The product has evolved through a push/pull process: the interaction between our ambition for it and client feedback. This design process has been continuous and distributed. Contribution has been made from throughout the organization at every iteration of work. If all the different generations of this table were lined up in one room a process of refinement would be discernible So would some steps backwards here and there. Throughout most of this period, MG Taylor and it’s clients were the major users of the AI WorkFurniture. The facilitated a level of feedback that is difficult to get from a consumer environment. The ValueWeb Model declares that the customer is a necessary component of an enterprise model not a target of the enterprise whose sole function is to buy the product and provide the cash. The Creative Process Model asserts that USING is a necessary stage of any successful process. As one product evolves to maturity, new ones are introduced. Each cycle, the beginning point is more refined and the refinement process faster. Sustained Rapid Prototyping is a competency viable organizations must develop in this business environment.


A product produced for use in managed environments like a NavCenter is one thing. It is another matter to be consumer-ready A consumer product has a different price-point than a custom use environment. Error- tolerance is much lower. The user-interface has to be much better developed and intuitive. This iteration of the tables has evolved to the level of a “stand-alone” consumer piece that can be sold through a catalog, shipped “flat” and assembled by the buyer. There are other AI pieces nearing this level of marketability.


In the entire history of AI only two pieces of furniture have been built that did not go into an environment as a tool to be used. Our disciple has always been to “ship our prototypes.” This means that the Prototyping process has to be done with a greater level of precision than typical. It also requires intelligent feedback from the installed environment. It means that Rapid-Prototyping has to be sustained over several generations of Design/Build/Use. Sustained Rapid Prototyping (SRP), then, is a distinct method. It is far more practical than existing approaches which are too disconnected, expensive and slow for the emerging marketplace. This method turns the market into an active design tool - an integral part of the organization that makes things. It heals the existing rift between maker, object and user.



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Matt Taylor
August 11, 2002


SolutionBox voice of this document:


posted: August 11, 2002

revised: August 13, 2002
• • •

note: this document is about 99% finished

Copyright© Matt Taylor 2002
Aspects of the work shown and described are Patented and Pending by iterations

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