Table with a Tale

Conf table1

A table is more than a work surface. Like the hearth in a home, an office conference table should be an object around which people gather, talk, work, create, brainstorm and explore. As we began selecting furniture for our newly renovated offices, we knew that the conference table would be a centerpiece. We needed something large enough to accommodate meetings with a growing number of staff, and durable enough to withstand the sketchings, coffee mugs, charrettings, and other abuses architecture offices typically inflict on their work surfaces. The look of the table was also important, as it would be immediately visible through the sparkling glass walls of our conference room adjacent to the lobby and elevator. Not to be shallow, but design is an aesthetic profession and our furniture is an expression and extension of our brand. So we scoured sources for the perfect design and found lots of nice options…BUT nothing really gave us that Goldilocks feeling of Jusstt Riiggghht. Some were too small, others too big, some too flashy, others too shabby, and several beyond our budget. It just felt like something was missing. So what’s a design office to do?

Good question. How about, oh I don’t know, design one?!

Materials in progress: individual planks were selected, milled and then organized to balance color, worm holes and nails holes.

Materials in progress: individual planks were selected, milled and then organized to balance color, worm holes and nails holes.

That’s just what we did. And in doing so, we figured out what had been missing from our search. What our table needed was a story – its own narrative, a reflection of the Studio G process. During an ‘aha!’ moment swimming laps at her local pool, Managing Principal Gail Sullivan reconnected with Rebecca Petersen, a local furniture designer who formerly shared space in the Brewery. In collaboration with Peterson Furniture, Studio G designed a rectangular table of wood and steel to seat 14-16 people. Rebecca led the search for materials, eventually sourcing gorgeous reclaimed planks from a barn in the Great Black Swamp Region in Northwest Ohio. She then lovingly prepared the surface with lots of elbow grease and Vermont Naturals Poly Whey finish. The eco-friendly water based finish is actually made from whey protein, a byproduct of cheese making! And it’s low VOC, non yellowing, and very durable. The planks sit atop an elegantly crafted, unobtrusive and sturdy custom steel base. And you know what? The result is perfect. Goldilocks perfect. Jusstt Riiggghht. Functional, unique, beautiful and appropriate for its context and use.

Before: an old barn in Ohio

Before: an old barn in Ohio

When our team gathers around this table we all feel a sense of its history: the materials, relationships, craftsmanship and collaboration forged in its making. When we put pen to paper on its surface, we can’t help but think about where it has been, how it has transformed, and where it might lead us – and our designs – in the future.

Finished product!

After: Finished product in Jamaica Plain!

To view more of Rebecca Petersen’s work, please visit

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