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Upcycled tables. Student project Natural Born Collective

Dobrawa Bies
11 of January '21

Young furniture designers from Warsaw's Academy of Fine Arts and Poznan's University of Life Sciences faced an interesting challenge - upcycling the materials used to create the 2019 Natural Born exhibition by Tomek Rygalik and designing designer wooden tables from them. The result was four diverse designs: Closer, Relations, Common and CUT, forming the Natural Born Collective.

The new tables were created from planks of red American oak that had formed a forest at the Natural Born exhibition a year earlier . The upcycled furniture was created under the direction of the project's author Tomek Rygalik - a lecturer at the Faculty of Design at Warsaw's Academy of Fine Arts - and Adam Majewski of the Furniture Department of the Faculty of Forestry and Wood Technology at Poznan's University of Life Sciences. The entire project was initiated by the American Hardwood Industry Trade Association(AHEC).

Upcycling project by students of the Academy of Fine Arts Warsaw and Poznan University of Life Sciences


experimental furniture

The student-designed tables, named Closer, Relations, Common and Cut, are all unique, experimental products. They refer to the interaction between users and the interpretation of the raw material used to make the furniture. Some participants focused on giving the tables shapes that make it easier for users to find their way in the context of meetings of a formal or informal nature. Above all, however, the use of a highly renewable wood raw material- American red oak - was crucial in the creative process.

Uczestnicy projektu
w trakcie pracy

The student designs were made at Swallow's Tail Furniture studio

Photo: AHEC

American red oak has a very interesting wood grain, it is also a very durable species and has an unprecedented shade compared to our Polish species," said Eryka Tyma, a student at Poznań University of Life Sciences and co-author of the Relations project.

According to project supervisor Dr. Adam Majewski:

TheNatural Born chair became a huge inspiration for us, so spontaneously, together with its author and AHEC, we decided to collaborate on a new project. Together we decided that the best solution would be to involve young, talented people who aspire to become designers of functional forms, including furniture. In addition, upcycling is a kind of opposition to wasting materials, which is expressed in restoring their functionality and sometimes in giving them a new context or form. That's why we decided to use material from the exhibition.

Stół Closer

Closer table brings users together

Photo: AHEC, design: Roksana Licznerska, Katarzyna Polaszewska, Łukasz Klodziński

conscious production

The tables that the students designed were curated by the Swallow's Tail Furniture design studio. The meetings held at the studio were an excellent opportunity for the students to learn and deepen their understanding of woodworking techniques and methods, as well as to understand the practical aspects of production. The total carbon footprint of the resulting four tables is 131 kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalent, which is equal to driving a distance of 1,100 kilometers in an ordinary passenger car, and equal to the carbon dioxide emissions generated by an average European over the course of five days, or a total emission of 1.6 iPhone phones over the entire period of use.

The table designs created directly relate to the Natural Born manifesto. They exemplify a conscious break with complex form, showing that the designer can and should have an impact on reducing the resources used," added Tomek Rygalik.

four upcycling tables

TheCloser table by a team consisting of: Roksana Licznerska (ASP), Katarzyna Polaszewska and Łukasz Klodziński (UPP) is a project that responds to the natural need for human contact. Thanks to its tapering shape, it allows to "regulate" the distance between interlocutors. At one end, the width of the table corresponds to the boundaries of the contractual comfort zone, while at the other end it brings those in a close relationship closer.

Stół Relations

geometric Relations table

Photo: AHEC, design: Marta Kotkowska, Jaroslaw Bartoszek, Eryka Tyma

Relationstable by the design team consisting of: Marta Kotkowska, Jaroslaw Bartoszek (Academy of Fine Arts) and Eryka Tyma (UPP) is the result of the authors' study of the effect of geometry on the relationship between people using the table together. The arc, obtuse angle and sharp corner enable and even hint at various situations - from the minimum interaction of three couples meeting, to seven places devoid of social hierarchy. The table was made with cafes, canteens or coworking spaces in mind. The raw, minimalist detailing is a manifesto of Natural Born's original philosophy.

Stół Common

long table Common

Photo: AHEC, design: Katarzyna Brągiel, Michał Bułas, Patryk Grabowski, Ania Jurysta

Katarzyna Brągiel, Michal Bułas, Patryk Grabowski of the Academy of Fine Arts and Ania Jurysta of UPP designed the Common table. The furniture was created to bring people together - it is meant to be a table that provides a safe space for those sitting at it to interact with others. The width of the table is equal to the average size of two plates placed in front of the meeting participants.

Stół CUT

The austere form of the CUT table

Photo: AHEC, design: Barbara Bellon, Joanna Kosko, Arkadiusz Król

The last of the student teams, consisting of Barbara Bellon and Joanna Kośko from the Academy of Fine Arts and Arkadiusz Król from UPP, created the CUT table.
Their idea was to give up everything unnecessary, both in form, design and during the manufacturing process. The designers were guided by the limitations of the material, this approach resulted in a visually and structurally bold form.

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