Introducing Corbel: Our Adjustable Side Table

Introducing Corbel: Our Adjustable Side Table

Our modern overbed/over couch table prototype is on display at the Museum of Vancouver

In late 2022, we received an invitation to apply for an exhibition called "Reclaim + Repair: The Mahogany Project" at the Museum of Vancouver. We were thrilled to have our design for an over-couch/overbed table accepted into the show, which opens on July 20, 2023. In this post, we will share more about the exhibit, the design process for our new side table, and how you can acquire one in the future!

The Corbel Adjustable Side Table with Coco Chair by ffabb

What is Reclaim + Repair: The Mahogany Project?

"Reclaim + Repair: The Mahogany Project" is a museum exhibition curated by Propellor Studio in collaboration with the Museum of Vancouver. It showcases the creative work of Vancouver's design community, emphasizing sustainability and social/environmental justice. Local designers were chosen to transform vintage and reclaimed mahogany into various objects, including furniture, lighting, and jewelry. Out of 65 submissions, 21 projects were selected by a review panel, and the exhibited works are available for purchase, with proceeds supporting Indigenous-led reforestation in Nicaragua and Guatemala, where the mahogany originated.

Our Submission to the Museum of Vancouver

While we have numerous ideas for functional and accessible furniture, we wanted to undertake a project that would highlight the beautiful mahogany that would be featured in the exhibition. When people think of an "overbed table," the image that often comes to mind is a clinical-looking rolling laminate tray serving questionable hospital food. However, this type of surface is needed for various reasons at home beyond eating, such as working, using electronic devices like laptops and iPads, reading, playing games, or storing items nearby. Creating a wooden side table that provided the functionality of an overbed table without the associated stigma seemed like the perfect fit for the exhibition.

We began the process by consulting with Margot McWhirter, an Occupational Therapist and Gerontologist specializing in accessible home modification. She guided us through other designs that didn't quite offer enough functionality, from static C Tables that were awkwardly sized and difficult to move out of the way to over-couch desks purchased on Amazon that were impossible to adjust.

Through our collaboration, we identified key features to include in our redesign:

  • Adjustability (both in height and position)
  • Easy to push into place and out of the way (no knobs or finicky hardware)
  • A footprint that doesn't interfere with the use of the couch, chair, or bed
  • Stylish design that blends with modern home aesthetics and showcases the vintage mahogany

With these features in mind we designed a side table concept with a static base that secures under the bed, couch, or chair, and an adjustable swing arm that allows users to easily position the moveable tray and push it away when needed. The base conceals the stability hardware while also providing two shelves for item storage. This modern design with hidden hardware ensures that our overbed/over-couch table fits seamlessly into any thoughtfully curated living space.

Creating the Prototype

Once the concept was finalized, we produced a series of rough prototypes to test functionality and aesthetic proportions. When we were satisfied with the result (and our canine assistants approved the design), we proceeded to the exciting part - crafting the final prototype using the mahogany wood provided by the Museum of Vancouver.

The reclaimed wood was really interesting to work with as it varied in colour, density, and markings from past use. We chose to embrace these qualities and applied a clear, environmentally friendly beeswax finish to accentuate the variations and imperfections. We were also delighted by how the matte black powder coating complemented the hues of the mahogany. See more behind the scenes fabrication photos and videos on our instagram.

After completion, we named the side table "Corbel." In architecture, a corbel is a decorative support that projects from a wall, often used beneath balconies. In our case, the base serves as a modern support that integrates with the couch or bed, providing a functional space for activities ranging from using a laptop to playing cards.

Where to See It

The Corbel Side Table is on display at the Museum of Vancouver from July 20, 2023, until July 2024. It is showcased alongside the Coco Chair by ffabb, a North Vancouver-based furniture company known for crafting beautiful and durable pieces.

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