Object stories: Carafe Table by Charles Wilson

By Penny Craswell

The Carafe table has a visual and structural complexity to it that is characteristic of the work of Charles Wilson, a Sydney-based designer who worked in close collaboration with Herman Miller over a period of years to complete the project.

Living Edge_Carafe table designed by Charles Wilson for Herman Miller_009-5
Carafe table with drawer designed by Charles Wilson for Herman Miller


The underside features a series of compartments in moulded plywood including open shelves as well as a closed, sliding drawer that opens both ways, sloping inwards to create a geometry that is tucked in under the tabletop. The leg structure spans to the corners of the table, supporting the shelves but visually forming a third layer underneath that is drawn together at the centre in a distinctive T cross-section which Wilson says references industrial structures.

Carafe table in Cherry designed by Charles Wilson for Herman Miller. Image: supplied
Carafe table in Cherry designed by Charles Wilson for Herman Miller. Image: supplied

The purpose of the shelving and drawer is the driving factor behind the design. Wilson saw a need for a multi-purpose dining table that also works as a work desk for your laptop or other electronic devices. “If you think back twenty years, the idea of having a computer at a dining table would have just been ugly and inappropriate,” says Wilson. “Nowadays, we read our news and novels from those devices while they provide the music we listen to.”

Detail of underside, Carafe table by Charles Wilson. Image: supplied
Detail of underside, Carafe table by Charles Wilson. Image: supplied


The table is designed for easy access and storage of everyday electronic equipment, allowing them to be stored while dinner is served, or to be used as a traditional dining table drawer for cutlery or napkins.

This project is Wilson’s first with US furniture giant Herman Miller and was several years in the making. “Working with Herman Miller has been terrific” says Wilson. “The development period was long and involved many different prototypes experimenting with different material and functions. The initial stages can be nerve wracking – I feel so responsible to the work and really want to nail it the first time round.

Carafe table desinged by Charles Wilson. Image: supplied
Carafe table desinged by Charles Wilson. Image: supplied


“The resolution involved a lot of consultation with the Herman Miller development team as well as the timber workers in Vietnam. In the end we went though three prototyping stages each with several different versions, which gives some indication of the complexity of the project.”

More on Charles Wilson

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Laptop with Carafe table. Image: supplied
Laptop with Carafe table. Image: supplied
Executive set-up of Carafe table. Image: supplied
Executive set-up of Carafe table. Image: supplied

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