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Tension Rod Table

This is a Table. It was designed by Edward Weinberger and made by Scott Schmidt. It is dated 1989 and we acquired it in 2016. Its medium is ebonized purpleheart, patinated bronze. It is a part of the Product Design and Decorative Arts department.

This Tension Rod table exemplifies Ed Weinberger’s analytical and precise approach to furniture design. Over about the past thirty years, Weiberger has designed approximately thirty furniture forms all of which investigate issues around structure and balance. His work is severely geometric. Among his self-ascribed influences are Pierre Chareau, with whom he shares a predilection for sleek surfaces and the elegant combination of metal and wood, Gerrit Rietveld whose furniture pioneered a planar quality that Weinberger upholds, and Charles Renee Mackintosh whose gridded furniture frames provide a formal inspiration. The designer is also a collector of antique mechanical objects – brass-plated galvanometers, cylindrical calculators – whose architectural quality and functional machine aesthetics play out in his furniture.
Never academically trained in design, Weinberger explores furniture as a mode of personal inquiry. Living with Parkinson’s disease, Weinberger finds focus and control in his ability to devise each furniture form. In order to work out his ideas, Weinberger makes small sculptures and collages from painted rods and panels, and sketches by hand. His designs are then fabricated by the master furniture craftsman Scott Schmidt. This Tension Rod table’s innovation lies for the most part in its system of turnbuckles, “long, sculpted shafts, with separate threaded rods emerging from their ends” which then attach to the horizontal planes.[1] If you rotate the turnbuckles one way, the threaded rods extend out, if you turn them the other way, they contract. Weinberger has explained, “Last thing before this piece comes together…it’s all slack, like a boat’s sail, the stays all wobbly. But then you tighten the turnbuckles just right and suddenly the thing tautens up, perfectly stiff and tuned. And it’s the damnedest thing, drives architects crazy, because the thing that’s holding the planes up is at the same time pulling the planes apart. Complete contradiction: simultaneous push and pull.” [2] Built on an exacting sense of mathematics and materials, this table is notable for not only its architectonic appearance but also for the complexity of its construction.

This object was donated by Kenneth Frampton and Silvia Kolbowski. It is credited Gift of Kenneth Frampton and Silvia Kolbowski.

Its dimensions are

H x W x D: 71.1 × 77.8 × 65.7 cm (28 in. × 30 5/8 in. × 25 7/8 in.)

Cite this object as

Tension Rod Table; Designed by Edward Weinberger (American, b. 1942); ebonized purpleheart, patinated bronze; H x W x D: 71.1 × 77.8 × 65.7 cm (28 in. × 30 5/8 in. × 25 7/8 in.); Gift of Kenneth Frampton and Silvia Kolbowski; 2016-3-1

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<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url=https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/404537491/ |title=Tension Rod Table |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=10 August 2022 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>