Bavarian wood furniture expert Zeitraum’s Curtain table marks a departure from classic table archetypes, while also embracing the company’s trademark commitment to sustainability.
With its reliance on solid wood, Zeitraum has adopted this material as a defining theme, uniting its portfolio like a continuous narrative. The manufacturer has been working with this natural material for over three decades and has explored its potential in countless designs. Nevertheless, as the wood specialists have proven time and again, there is still room for surprise and innovation. With their latest creation, they show how supple and soft solid wood can be – and how emotional and poetic their approach is to this favoured material. The Curtain table conceived for Zeitraum by Berlin design studio Läufer+Keichel appears light, almost floating.
At first glance, the material, statics and silhouette of the furniture seem scarcely reconcilable. The wooden top of the solid table rests on two thin-walled supports, reminiscent of a textile undulating in the wind. These base elements replace the usual four legs and act like wings under the tabletop, whose broad expanse appears to hover. The first moment of amazement is inevitably followed by the question of construction. The designers of Curtain, Marcus Keichel and Julia Läufer, can best answer this: ‘The design idea plays with the contradiction that the supports are load-bearing but look as if they were made of a flowing, soft material, like a textile. But the wave is interesting from a statics perspective because of its stiffening effect.’
As a material, wood is the ideal ally: It turns the traces of time into a positive attribute and develops individual charm with its patina
Keichel+Läufer have already designed several furniture families for Zeitraum. In 2015, they launched their first piece of furniture for the traditional Bavarian company, and since then, the collaboration has become a constant. This is also due to the fact that designers and the manufacturer share many of the same values and convictions. For Zeitraum, sustainable and regional production has been part of its philosophy since the company’s founding in 1990. At the time, they were still a pioneer in combining ecological thinking and conduct with good form; today they profit from their many years of experience in this area. The designers likewise benefit from the company’s attitude and actions in their collaboration, as Keichel remarks: ‘As a designer, you are not left to your own devices when it comes to assessing whether a design solution is more or less sustainable. You need a broader expertise in materials and processes. Zeitraum has invested a lot in this field, which puts it far ahead of the rest.’
Meanwhile, Zeitraum has even developed an in-house sustainability rating for its furniture with the Furniture Footprint. ‘A natural product is not always a ‘good product’ in the sense of sustainable value creation,’ explains the manufacturer. Economic, ecological and social aspects must be taken into account during all phases – which also includes recyclability at the end of the product’s life. Zeitraum tries to delay this for as long as possible, however, so that its furniture can accompany users for several generations. As a material, wood is the ideal ally. It turns the traces of time into a positive attribute and develops individual charm with its patina. To ensure a long useful life, Zeitraum and its designers rely on iconic silhouettes of enduring timelessness.
When developing Curtain, Läufer+Keichel sought to think differently about the table. Departing from the classic archetype of a tabletop with four legs, they approached the design from a motivational perspective. ‘Curtain was born out of the reflex to break free from architecturally conceived design approaches focused on static aspects,’ comments Keichel. When Läufer+Keichel presented their ideas for a new table to the Zeitraum team, it was initially more of an exemplary case of thinking outside the box. ‘We didn’t expect this design to get the nod – but Zeitraum was immediately enthusiastic,’ the designer recalls. The next step was to make Curtain a reality and facilitate production in line with the company’s philosophy.
Zeitraum manufactures its furniture with minimal use of resources, and modern manufacturing processes, meanwhile, make an important contribution to material efficiency. In the case of Curtain, the base elements are produced with a CNC milling machine. ‘Plywood parts in this size would not have been compatible with sustainability requirements because larger quantities of glue would have been required,’ remarks Keichel. ‘Solid wood was the right choice. However, one shouldn’t imagine the production as simply milling the wave form from a thick block of wood. The raw structure is assembled from smaller pieces in such a way that it produces as few milling chips as possible.’ It is an almost sculptural act, but one implemented precisely by a machine. The finishing is done by hand: only with sanding and oiling does the perfect wave emerge, seeming to test the limits of physics and subjugating the solid material to an organic form. A successful symbiosis of vision, craftsmanship and precision – which simultaneously respects and preserves the sustainability aims of the company. Simply classic Zeitraum.