Thanks to a conversation I had in 2005 with a designer by the name of Jill Salisbury, I began looking deeper into ways of incorporating Biomimicry to some of my furniture designs.
What is Biomimicry?
Biomimicry is the examination of Nature, its models, systems, processes, and elements to emulate or take inspiration from in order to solve human problems. The term biomimicry and biomimetics come from the Greek words bios, meaning life, and mimesis, meaning to imitate.
The idea of imitating Nature through design was something that holds great interest for me. Before long I was sketching rudimentary table shapes that were comprised of the 6-sided hexagonal walls of a common honeycomb. Several years later this exercise resulted in a working prototype that became known as the Honeycomb Cocktail Table. The example shown here was crafted out of Chestnut Ribbon Sapele.
Measuring 45" x 45" x 16" overall height this table is comprised of 7 individual hexagonal modules, with the center unit being solid and the 6 surrounding ones each having 4 closed sides and 2 open ones, with a single adjustable shelf suspended inside each.
The theory behind this design was that each of the modules would function as individual storage pods, which could also be independently rotated towards the center in order to hide the clutter of whatever was stored inside. In this way the table would have the clean look as shown in the photo, yet conceal the fact that abundant storage capacity was available inside.
While the idea was great in theory, the practical application did not work quite as planned. The biggest problem was that any unevenness in the floor was quickly telegraphed through the pods, creating a highly uneven top surface depending on how and where these pods were placed on the floor. When all was said and done it became quite clear that this design will function best only if the pods can somehow be fastened together as a single monolith.
Another issue was price point. Given the time it took to build and finish this table it was simply not possible to make this design cost effective in a way that would justify a price point at a reasonable perceived value.
Conclusion: Although the design is cool, it`s simply not practical to produce on an ongoing basis. That said, this Honeycomb Cocktail Table is probably destined to remain as a one-off prototype.