Draft One The Story of Muti-Ply / Sam Solhaug

Dan and Sam met while working for the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, in America.
The Walker is considered by many as one of the predominant modern art institutions in the world.

Dan was an Intern designer in the design department and Sam was working on the exhibition crew handling and installing art and also working for an architect part time.
Dan graduated from the RCA in London, Sam attended Parsons in New york and Los Angeles.

They became close friends and realised after many discussions, a relationship developed around their views, ideas, and concepts of current design and art, which they both felt was lacking for the most part a seriousness or a general rigour.
The design world seemed to be relying on too much form making in general which each concluded and agreed upon.

Each one coming from a different discipline (Dan, Graphic Design) and (Sam, Architecture) these discussions soon went in search of a project in which to materialise these talks.
Both related to each other's ideas through each other's discipline, having both a firm belief in the concept of multi-disciplinary practice, which they both explored in their respective fields.

A conceptual idea using plywood led Dan to the idea of taking a four by eight sheet of ply wood and cutting it into strips and re-orientating them so the surface is now the edge.
Dan; I had no function for it, and didn't know what it meant to make something like that.

It was Sam who brought in the notion of continuing this surface to the floor, in effect, bringing it a utilitarian aspect and creating a table.
Sam; It would be great to continue that surface down to the floor... how could we do it?

It was at this stage that they developed the idea of using a recursive conceptual process that would limit the table to be constructed from one sheet with no waste. This was done in effect to help generate a form, without relying on other more common subjective motives.
A recursive structure is one in which some of the elements produce the rules that generate the structure itself. Both generated this idea in a bar they both frequented after work to discuss ideas late into the night (usually closing time). It was when they met for lunch the next day, they had found that they had both stayed up
even later and drawn identical tables (10.2 Coffee Table) using exactly the same scale. The only difference was that Dan had used the computer, and Sam had used, as always, graphite and velum to design and draw.

Dan and Sam then embarked on six months of investigating and developing a construction process that would work structurally.
This is a unique table requiring completely new techniques in construction. Many mock sections were made to test different gluing and pressing systems.

After a long search for the best carpenter in Minneapolis, they hired a professional carpenter to build what they hoped would be their final proto-type of the table.
About ten carpenters were interviewed, only a couple expressed an interest in trying something this new. Many just looked at them in amazement and shook their heads.

This came to a sudden end as the carpenter could not make this unique construction work. Forging ahead by themselves after this small set back and realising that they would have to come up with the solutions themselves, they discovered a unique way of successfully constructing the first Multiply Table.
Eventually, it was a pure engineering solution that solved the problem. But it had been a long road with many failures and people like carpenters who flatly believed it could not be done. They had at last succeeded to the surprise of many.

They then showed the table to the public to explore exactly what they had done. It was this showing that convinced them to show a 10.2 Multi -Ply Coffee Table in Milan at the furniture fair (Salonsattelite 2000).
Staff at the Walker, including the directors and curators, were invited to view the table Dan and Sam had completed in the Walker conference room during the annual Christmas party. It was from this they were given huge encouragement to pursue the table(s) and they express their gratitude to all those that gave support and allowed late night use of the carpentry shop for months during this endeavour.