WF Magazine Side Table

written by:
September 27, 2012

For our October issue we're celebrating the best in American design, so we recently got on the phone with Parsons-trained furniture and lighting designer Joshua Howe who spoke to us from his Hudson, New York, workshop about the new WF Magazine Side Table. "The idea is a simple geometric structure with pieces that can be added to it," he says of the steel-framed table. The modular system includes options for both a concrete slab to sit or store things on and a magazine rack. The tables sell for $2,300 and can be purchased through the Culture and Commerce Project in Hudson. Read on for a breakdown of how Howe brings the WF Magazine Table to life.

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  Here's the finished product, a 32" x 12.5" x 15" table with a removable concrete panel and space for four magazines. The frame itself is steel with either a lacquer or petroleum inhibitor finish.
    Here's the finished product, a 32" x 12.5" x 15" table with a removable concrete panel and space for four magazines. The frame itself is steel with either a lacquer or petroleum inhibitor finish.
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  Howe will also customize the design such that it could be all magazine rack, a full-on concrete-topped bench, or he even suggested tipping the table on its side to form a pedestal.
    Howe will also customize the design such that it could be all magazine rack, a full-on concrete-topped bench, or he even suggested tipping the table on its side to form a pedestal.
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  The magazine rack is also made of welded steel, and though it fits over the top of the frame it can easily be removed.
    The magazine rack is also made of welded steel, and though it fits over the top of the frame it can easily be removed.
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  Typically it takes Howe a day or two to finish the metal frame. "It takes patience to make it look seamless," he says. "I want the frames to be strong, but clean, and I don't want to see any of the welds."
    Typically it takes Howe a day or two to finish the metal frame. "It takes patience to make it look seamless," he says. "I want the frames to be strong, but clean, and I don't want to see any of the welds."
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  When it comes to pouring the concrete panel, Howe relies on a mold. Because he keeps the concrete quite wet over the course of making it, he reinforces it with welded wire mesh. "In concrete," he says, "the enemy to strength is excess water. But to get the marbled effect on the surface I have to keep it fluid."
    When it comes to pouring the concrete panel, Howe relies on a mold. Because he keeps the concrete quite wet over the course of making it, he reinforces it with welded wire mesh. "In concrete," he says, "the enemy to strength is excess water. But to get the marbled effect on the surface I have to keep it fluid."
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  The concrete Howe uses for the slab is a standard mixture that he's perfected through "tweaking and experience." When he started pouring them he admits that he had about a 50/50 success rate in getting it right.
    The concrete Howe uses for the slab is a standard mixture that he's perfected through "tweaking and experience." When he started pouring them he admits that he had about a 50/50 success rate in getting it right.
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  With the wet concrete in place, he adds a mix of slurry and pigment.
    With the wet concrete in place, he adds a mix of slurry and pigment.
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  Because the edge of the slab is exposed, Howe uses a trowel to work the pigment all the way through.
    Because the edge of the slab is exposed, Howe uses a trowel to work the pigment all the way through.
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  Once he's got the desired look, Howe then commences the drying process, which can take up to a week. "If I let it dry on its own it has a tendency to crack," he says. So with a combination of water and wet towels he controls the drying process for maximum strength.
    Once he's got the desired look, Howe then commences the drying process, which can take up to a week. "If I let it dry on its own it has a tendency to crack," he says. So with a combination of water and wet towels he controls the drying process for maximum strength.
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  After a wet sanding, he polishes the slab starting with a 50-grit paper and moving all the way up to 300.
    After a wet sanding, he polishes the slab starting with a 50-grit paper and moving all the way up to 300.
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  The finished slabs can take on a couple different qualities. The one on the top left "has an organic feel to it that's more on the surface of the concrete," Howe says. "The one on the top right has more tonality throughout the thickness of the piece. I started off trying to make it look like granite. But now I'm trying out some controlled imperfections."
    The finished slabs can take on a couple different qualities. The one on the top left "has an organic feel to it that's more on the surface of the concrete," Howe says. "The one on the top right has more tonality throughout the thickness of the piece. I started off trying to make it look like granite. But now I'm trying out some controlled imperfections."

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