The Leaf, a thin and lightweight chair designed by Folditure, will soon be joined by a table counterpart: the Cricket. An aluminum folding table, designed by architect Alexander Gendell, the Cricket uses a complex system of hinges and moving parts to quickly transform a room when that unexpected guest arrives for dinner. Gendell hopes his line of furniture alters the perception of how we organize and move around our living spaces, enabling our environment to become as adaptable and accommodating as a folding chair.
Folditure launched the Leaf chair at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair last May. Gendell and his small team assemble each chair at their production facility in New Jersey, with help from a local fabrication shop who does all of the CNC work.
Why did you decide to make a folding table, and what did you learn from the Leaf to prepare you for this step?
Actually, the Cricket was in development before we launched the Leaf. We transferred into the Cricket what we've learned from making the Leaf. We're trying to make furniture that's good enough that it doesn't have to be considered "folding furniture." Yes, it folds, it can be put away and takes up no space, but at the same time we're trying to make it appealing and comfortable enough to be one's primary furniture. What I realized with this project, looking at existing folding furniture, is that it has developed into second-rate furniture. It's almost like you have your real furniture, and then you have the folding stuff that you pull out when you have extra guests or too few chairs. It's never something you want to do if you're design conscious because the folding stuff isn't that great. We're trying to almost change the perception of what folding furniture is.
With the table it becomes a system, it's not just one product. They match and hang up in the closet the same way. And the table clips together. You can have 18 folding chairs and 9 tables and they would only take up about foot and a half of space in your closet. Snap snap snap; it comes together.
What are the dimensions and how does the table clip together?
The table is 23" x 36", so it's really for two people. There are these little prongs that snap together as you unfold them. It's to position them, because the table is very sturdy and solid on its own. It positions the next table so it doesn't want to move away.
Who would benefit the most from this kind of table?
Someone who lives in an urban environment, for space and time. The whole idea started years ago when we bought a studio apartment in Manhattan and the space was really tiny. We were looking for good, compact furniture that we could furnish this space with and I realized there wasn't really anything out there. But we filled an order the other day for 10 chairs for people with a large luxury apartment. And they love the idea that you don't have to have furniture out there that clutters the space all of the time. You can have two chairs when you need them, and then four chairs. And it can be your primary furniture. They like the modern look, and like not having stuff cluttering their space at all times.
Can one person set up and break down the table, similar to the chair?
Absolutely. Basically it's symmetrical along the center axis, and folds together flat. There's a concealed hook, and when you pull up on it the whole thing collapses in one movement, with one hand. One person can do it. It's 20 pounds, so it's not that heavy.
The moving parts are complex. Did having an architecture background help you with the design?
It definitely has. I honestly would have a hard time imagining this being possible without CAD. It's more a way of making than anything else.
I don't see a difference between the design and manufacturing. I'm involved in every level of the production process. This aluminum composite panel hasn't been used before to manufacture furniture. It's a very thin panel and it's used for skyscraper facades. We developed a riveting system that holds together the pieces in a tight bond and it works very nicely with the flatness.
From where does the name "Cricket" come?
The name ties into my idea of saving space and helping the environment through saving space. Everything nowadays is "green" and "eco-friendly" and made from recyclable materials, and that's great. But the way we live, we're just cluttering our lives with things that take up a lot of space and aren't used frequently. Naming the chair the Leaf and the table the Cricket are words that are evocative as a shape and as a sound. But, by saving space, we're going to be able to live comfortably in smaller sized houses and apartments. By doing so we're making a difference in the environment, instead of cluttering our lives with stuff. I like the name Cricket because I like crickets, and the table is something that's also sort of subtle. A cricket is there when you hear it: you can hear it, but not see it. But when you hear it, it makes you feel good.
The Leaf chair and the Cricket table are assembled and manufactured in New Jersey out of a waterproof, non-staining, aluminum composite material. The Leaf is available for purchase directly from Folditure. The Cricket will be available soon.