From the outset of this project, there were certain aspects of the furniture design that were predetermined, and there were other aspects that were negotiable. First and foremost, the layout was a fixed size (8"h x 52"w x 25"d), so the furniture had to accommodate a layout of those dimensions. As for the layout's electronics, the main requirement was that there must be enough space in the table to hold all of the circuits, power supplies, etc. The actual packaging of the electronics could be adjusted to fit the specific table design.
Several alternative table designs were considered, and they are discussed below and shown as 3D computer models. The actual design that was selected for Coffee Table #3 is Design #4, shown at the bottom of this page.
The first design consisted of 3 boxes. The layout, protected by a glass top, would occupy the main box. The other two boxes would serve as the table's legs.
The electronic assemblies would be mounted vertically in one of the legs, while the other leg would contain power supplies as well as provide storage space for the laptop computer or Tablet PC.
The electronic assemblies would swing out when maintenance is necessary as shown in the illustration above. Connections between the electronic assemblies and the layout would be by flexible cables.
Large adjustable-height casters would be mounted under the legs. Presumably, if the casters were lowered far enough, the table would appear to float slightly above the floor or carpet surface.
An alternative coffee table design would replace the leg boxes with more-conventional table legs and a shelf. The shelf would be hollow and would contain the layout's electronics. Wiring from the electronics to the layout would run through the legs.
This coffee table design would also have large adjustable-height casters.
Optional Removable Solid Top
An option that would be available for either of the above designs would be the addition of a removable solid top (shown below). The glass top could be optional if there is a solid top.
One very intriguing design places the layout in a table that has a pedestal base. The base would house the electronics and a lift mechanism that could raise the layout out of the table. The table would have a hinged two-piece wooden top (illustrated below).
When the two-piece cover is closed, the table would look similar to the above designs, except for the shape of the base.
When the cover is open, and the layout has been raised, the results would be quite dramatic. The entire layout would be visible from any angle, which is not the case with the first two designs.
The layout could be operated in either the raised or lowered position. An optional glass top could be installed if the layout is to remain in the lowered position.
With this design, casters would be a necessity, since the table would have to be moved away from nearby furniture before the top is opened.
Design #4 is similar to Design #3, except that it has a one-piece wooden top. The layout may be operated in either the raised position or in the lowered position. With the layout lowered, either a two-piece sliding glass top or a wooden top may be installed. The layout in its lowered position may be operated under the glass top if desired.
It is this design concept that was selected for Coffee Table #3.
When some of the original 3D computer models were shown to Kerry Vesper, he immediately became intrigued with idea of creating a one-of-a-kind free-form table sculpture to hold the layout and its electronics. In fact, it was Kerry who suggested the concept of mounting the layout on a lift to raise it to the top of the table. Earle Florence then created a number of conceptual sketches illustrating how the table might be designed, and how the top edge of the table sculpture might interact visually with the layout and backdrop painting when the layout is in the lowered position.
The first of Earle's sketches shows the table sculpture (brownish) with the layout inside (greenish) . The glass or wooden top would be at the top of the green area. Obviously, neither top would be there if the layout is to be raised.
The general concept is that the edges of the wood sculpture would be higher than the glass or wooden top. This would surround most of the layout with sculptured mountains—albeit only a few inches high—which would place the layout in a valley.
The next sketch (below) shows the layout as viewed from inside the table when the layout is in the lowered position. The “Horizon” is where the glass would be, and the painted backdrop is shown below the horizon in the “Lower” area. The “Upper” area is part of the table sculpture. In this sketch, the raised edges of the table sculpture appear as distant mountains.
The final illustration (below) is a Photoshop composite of a 3D model of the layout and the table sketch. This shows the layout in the raised position, with the raised edges of the table sculpture appearing as nearby rock formations.
These sketches and 3D computer models formed the basis for the final table, which is shown below with the layout in the raised position.