A new approach brought to the table

Edinburgh Napier academic produces unique display stands for leading design research event

Date posted

22 March 2017


Last updated

14 June 2022

When Research Through Design 2017 opens its doors to delegates this week, it won’t just be the work of exhibiting design academics that catches the eye.

Each piece of research will be supported by a total of 40 unique display tables, each individually designed and produced by leading Edinburgh Napier academic Paul Kerlaff in collaboration with Mark Kobine from the Edinburgh College of Art.Wooden plank

Inspired by the minimalist work of Swiss architect Peter Zumthor and by Paul’s own research, the design will see each table feature a series of air-dried oak timber planks bound together by straps to provide a sleek and simple space for exhibiting academics to showcase their work upon.

Donated by Dalkeith-based timber manufacturing business Angus and Mack, the project has seen a total of 40 boards of locally sourced oak used, with each table hand-built on site.

Paul’s current research work focuses on designing furniture for re-manufacture and will investigate a new approach to leasing furniture rather than selling outright.

The tables for RTD 2017 have been designed with this in mind to allow the wood to be completely re-used on completion of the exhibition.

Edinburgh Napier at Research Through Design 2017

Fostering a step change from a linear to a circular economy in terms of furniture design is a key aim of Paul’s work, and by using this approach in public spaces and exhibitions, he hopes to increase awareness of this new way of thinking.

He said: “Research Through Design 2017 is a temporary exhibition so we had to be careful to avoid a liner manufacturing process – we had to ensure that the materials we used could be re-used once the event was complete.

“Our design for the tables is in line with this way of thinking. There are no nails, screws or glue used. The timber can be completely recycled after the event, ensuring that it can be re-used in other forms, whether it be as a piece of furniture, a staircase or even another table. The aesthetic itself is inspired by Peter Zumthor’s minimalist approach to design – we want the research work to be front and centre of people’s attentions but the table needs to complement this.

“Each display was hand-built on site by Mark Kobine, myself and our team of student volunteers, and I can’t thank Angus & Mack enough for its help in sourcing the oak timber. This approach ensures there is no waste timber and that each table is unique – it’s an approach that I’m hopeful will become common practice for future temporary exhibitions and conferences.”

Hosted by Edinburgh Napier University and University of Edinburgh (Royal College of Art), RTD 2017 will bring together a number of the UK’s leading design academics who will share their research and work in a unique curated exhibition. A range of key note speeches, design workshops and panel discussions are also part of its line-up.

For more information and to view the full programme for RTD 2017, please visit here.