Werner Aisslinger

Table 1140, Five Questions for: Werner Aisslinger

Solid, yet light; understated, yet impressive: designed by Werner Aisslinger as a “community hub”, the Thonet table 1140 brings together functionality, versatility and elegant simplicity.

This new design features solid oak legs, rounded on the outer edge in a quarter circle, as well as smart, unobtrusive connecting elements on the corners of the tabletop. The tabletop appears almost as if it were floating. Thanks to the smart design, even chairs with armrests fit nicely under this extremely sturdy, stable piece of furniture. These features, together with its attractive price point, mean that the 1140 can be used almost anywhere: in the home as a dining table or desk as well as in the contract sector – from New-Work contexts to coworking spaces, from restaurants to hotels, from libraries to seminar rooms.

The 1140 was created for a very specific project: the BaseCamp student apartment project in Lyngby. How did this collaboration come about?

My design office, studio aisslinger, worked on the BaseCamp project, headed by the American investor and owner Armon Bar-Tur, from day one. Starting in 2015, we developed the concept for the Europe-wide student apartment buildings, continuously worked to optimise the planning and interior design and, as part of the corporate design identity of the project, we were able to keep adding more new and surprising local stories and themes. That’s what makes BaseCamp so exciting; it doesn’t simply use the same brand on repeat, it’s a living brand world that is constantly evolving.

Our office, which is part product design studio and part spatial design architectural office, aims to create new design projects and products from our contract work. For example, to design new furniture or lamps that we need for projects like BaseCamp, but that could also easily be used in other projects or settings.

The project in Lyngby, located on the outskirts of Copenhagen, has 650 rooms and was the third and largest BaseCamp apartment project for students that we designed in the Danish capital alone. It has spacious communal areas with large areas for work and study.

These spaces needed a study table without an elaborate support system underneath, so that chairs could easily be pushed under it. It was also important that the product we designed was very sustainable because the “customers” who would be using it are young students, the Fridays for Future generation, who care deeply about using sustainable products in their living and working spaces.

The table also became a part of the Thonet portfolio. How did that come to be?

We had had a friendly relationship with Thonet for many years. Early on in the planning and conception stage of the Lyngby project, I got in touch with Norbert Ruf, Creative Director and Managing Director at Thonet, to discuss whether we could work together to create a table solution. Based on the design brief that we set ourselves, the tables required for the Lyngby project were complex and, at the same time, archetypal. We wanted:  

  • a wooden table with four legs
  • an archetype, the epitome of a table
  • a sustainable wooden table 
  • a table that was easy to transport, in other words one that could be disassembled
  • a table that could be manufactured in a variety of sizes
  • an extremely stable table
  • a table with longevity, in other words basic, simple, unobtrusive and timeless

These requirements from our design brief made it easy to find common ground with Thonet. Thonet is synonymous with archetypical, simple, clean designs that are both timeless and sustainable, and that incorporate smart engineering solutions.

Werner Aisslinger
Werner Aisslinger

How did you approach the design? Who came up with the requirement of being able to dance on the 1140? Was that you, thinking back to your student days?

I wanted to create a table that was not just a typical table for students, but one that could also be used universally by all generations. An archetype, a piece that looks like a table children would sit at to draw, one that families could use as a dining table, students could study on, a table that would look good in co-working spaces or conference rooms, in luxurious private homes or in cosy vacation apartments as a gathering space. Ideally, tables should emanate stability, solidarity, trust and extreme longevity – a stable, suspended plateau that you can dance on at a wild wedding reception. Tables are like stages on which the lives of generations are played out in all their intensity.

What was your biggest challenge when developing the table?

The biggest challenge for all of us was connecting the legs to the tabletop in an aesthetically pleasing manner. Throughout design history, there have been few tables like the 1140 that can adequately support such large dimensions (e.g. 250 x 100 cm) without a support system under the tabletop. The complex die-cast aluminium connectors in the corners, which, after much trial and error, we were able to almost invisibly integrate into the legs and tabletop, distribute the weight extremely well. The end result was an exceptionally stable wooden table with solid-wood legs that doesn’t look too complex or technical.

What do you personally feel the table is best suited for? As a dining table in a private home? As part of a co-working space? Or as a table in a student apartment, where it can be used for studying, eating, hanging out and maybe even for some of that dancing we were talking about?

My hope is that the table will be a loyal companion that is used in all stages of life: by students, as a dining table in the home, as a stand-alone desk and in co-working spaces, and then again as a table around which multiple generations can gather and celebrate as a family.


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