Groupe Lhoist, conference table unit, Brussels

Construction and installation

Completion 1999


Deutsche Werkstätten Hellerau created a four-piece conference table unit for this room based on a design from Berlin architects Becker Gewers Kühn & Kühn. Consisting of four individuals slabs which form an ellipse when joined, the sectioning was made such that each segment of the table can be used on its own as a small discussion table or combined freely with others. For this concept, the individual segments obviously needed to be as lightweight as possible and easy to move, quite a formidable task considering the impressive dimensions to the table as a whole: 6.8 by 3.7 metres with a slab thickness of six centimetres. If made of solid wood, such a table would weigh about 750 kilograms; particle board would have been even heavier. It would not have been possible to construct the unit around a hollow base since such a structure would have acted as a resonant body not able to provide the rich resonance of a solid table. For this reason, the Deutsche Werkstätten Hellerau specialists ultimately decided on a sandwich construction with a foam insert at the core. This lightweight core sandwiched between poplar plywood reduced the weight of the unit to a total of 250 kilograms, thus yielding manageable segments. To increase the structure’s stability, the plywood/foam sandwich was reinforced along its sides by applying spruce edging. The slabs were then pressed, veneered and milled into their intended shape. Another solid pear-wood edging was thereafter applied to insure that the inner edges would be flush and the rounded outside edges given a 45-degree phase angle. After applying pear-wood veneer to the surface, it was then stained dark-blue and varnished with a two-component polyurethane lacquer.

Text: Anke Müller
Photo: Bernadette Grimmenstein