Process: Infill Nesting Tables

I designed and fabricated the Infill nesting tables during a woodworking residency at Anderson Ranch Arts Center. In addition to the facilities of the Maloof Wood Barn, the opportunity for complete studio immersion during my 10-week residency made this project not only possible, but feasible, given the vast number of pieces and unremitting need to keep those pieces meticulously cataloged throughout fabrication. Assisting me in this organizational process was my computer- particularly my 3D modeling software, which informed my project from veritable napkin sketch to precise shop drawings.

Sketch model of Infill nesting tables

When I first conceptualized Infill, I envisioned a cube of solid maple, broken into a grid of much smaller cubes. I wanted to play with the notion of the original volume disintegrating, by subtracting cubes from the grid. As this sketch developed, and Infill assumed the functional role of a pair of nesting tables- an evolution from the initial idea of a single table- I realized the opportunity to use the subtracted cubes from the outer unit to form the inner one (or vice versa). I would simply insert each unit’s respective blocks into a gridded armature constructed of thin Baltic birch plywood.

Infill nesting table pieces and process

(L) Indexed maple blocks; (C) Plywood grid components; (R) Grid armatures

Infill nesting table detail view

To further enhance the effect of the two separate tables being positive and negative components of a single volume, I carefully labeled the maple blocks as I milled them from rough stock, maintaining their sequence for a continuous grain pattern. It is a subtle effect, most noticeable on the tops of the tables, which are composed of end grain faces.

Not only did an intricate computer model help establish precise dimensions for every component of Infill, it also helped coordinate the accurate placement of each part, from grid pieces to blocks- with 255 individual grid components and 476 maple cubes, the computer was pretty much my only means of maintaining order throughout fabrication. However, while the computer was a crucial tool in the process, there was no substitute for the finesse of handwork, whether that was milling raw material to final dimension, or hand-sanding every single block to fit into the armatures. Although technology exists to perform tasks such as milling to precise specs, the translation between digital and analog operations is intrinsic to my overall process, which values an organic dialogue over robotic, but sterile, exactitude.

Infill is a one-of-a-kind piece of furniture, and is currently available for sale. Please direct inquiries to justin@justinbuilds.com

  • Custom solid maple nesting tables, Anderson Ranch residency; www.justinbuilds.com