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Icon Outlook: Zaha’s Aqua Table

If any designer’s work exudes an easily recognizable aesthetic, it is that of Zaha Hadid. Her streamlined shapes and free-flowing forms have made her work remarkably iconic. The Aqua Table, a large scale dining/conference table produced for Established & Sons, is no exception. Blurring the distinction between the table’s “legs” or support and its surface, she has designed a table which evokes a sense of motion and creates dynamic interaction with the user and the environment.

Aqua Table. Designed by Zaha Hadid for Established & Sons.

“It’s like flying over water,” according to Zaha. The smooth surface of the table is translucent silicone gel, making visible the contours of the table through the alterations of color on its surface. The lower structural body is made from polyester; three “blisters” bulge out to form legs below the surface. The bulges register as indentations at the table’s surface where deeper pools of color form, enhancing its tactile quality and producing a surreal visual effect.

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In 2004, Zaha was the first woman to win the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize. Her work has been described as inventive and provocative. “Traditionally, architects have sought to create order out of chaos. Hadid’s generation of self-styled avant-garde practitioners…has upended this metaphor. Instead of order out of chaos, they have strived mightily to create chaos out of order.” According to Witold Rybczynski for Slate.com. “This architecture is not a response to functional requirements, or construction methods, or site constraints, but seems driven, instead, by images of The Future: streamlined shapes, free-flowing forms, silhouettes that suggest an intergalactic space station.”

In 2005, Zaha and Established & Sons debuted two prototypes of the Aqua Table, one of which was sold for $296,000 a Phillips de Pury auction. The Aqua Table was produced in an edition of twelve, smaller in scale than the prototypes and somewhat less detailed in their design. Zaha and Established & Sons have since partnered with the RED product campaign to produce a limited production run of 39 RED Aqua Tables signed by Zaha herself. All profits go directly to the Global Fund, perpetuating the RED campaign’s drive to engage the private sector in the fight against AIDS in Africa. In the words of Bono, “… if people buy (RED) Stuff like these tables, lives are saved. That simple. You’d want the tables anyway, they’re genius.”

Zaha’s work has a seemingly aerodynamic aesthetic: “silhouettes that suggest an intergalactic space station,” in the words of Rybczynski. Whether or not this is a piece you are naturally drawn to, Zaha has pushed the boundaries of product design and created a piece that engages its user through innovation. For Zaha’s other iconic furniture and product designs, check out B&B Italia’s Moon System, Duemilacinque Door Lever for Valli & Valli, and Orchis seating designed in collaboration with Patrik Schumacher.

Posted April 7th, 2009 by Jenny Rector


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