The Arc table is the latest addition to a range of products designed by Foster + Partners for Molteni & C, Milan. Drawing inspiration from tensile fabric structures, its form is generated by software developed to create flowing architectural designs.
The sculptural base is a single sweeping form anchored by three legs – between each extension, the material curves upwards to balance the tabletop. The top is a tempered glass disc, measuring either 140 or 150 centimetres in diameter. Three thin stainless steel plates are UV bonded to the glass and allow the base to be safely and discreetly secured using just three small screws.
Early prototypes used self-skinning polyurethane foam and aluminium to determine the form the base of the table would take. However for production, the design team investigated the possible use of ‘Ductal’, a self-coloured, lightweight fibre-filled concrete material previously used by the practice for building projects. Its strength and comparative lightness presented an interesting paradox and the material can be moulded to allow the wall thickness and details to be accurately controlled. Ductal is also waterproof and the mass-coloured base ensures the colour stays fresh throughout its lifespan.
There are several stages in the technical development and production process: firstly, a 1:1 wooden prototype is created on a CNC machine. This model is finished in exactly the same way as a final production piece, as it forms the basis of the two shells that make up the mould. Each shell is fabricated in rubber and slotted into a steel frame. Once the two shells are locked together, the reinforced concrete is poured in through the leg section. After 24 hours, the shells are removed and the table is left to dry for 20 days, until Ductal has reached its maximum strength and the base can be finished and sealed.