My thesis concept is about dynamic balance. I am showing this concept through the table. A table is defined “…as a piece of furniture with a flat top and one or more legs, providing a level surface on which objects may be placed…” The idea of sturdy or stable is not mentioned in this definition or any other that I looked at. Why? Maybe because the concept of stability regarding table attributes is just so taken for granted, so engrained in our consciousness, that we simply overlook the necessity to call out this trait. By the very nature of its functionality a table needs to be stable. I wanted to challenge this idea. Not by making tables that were necessarily unstable, but rather by playing with the visual balance of the composition. I hoped to create compositions that depict struggle, a struggle for visual as well as structural balance. My goal was to create a tension within each piece that may be disquieting, while still succeeding as functional furniture. Through this search for balance, as with life, I hope to achieve a deeper level of engagement and, hopefully, a deeper level of fulfillment.
The design for the initial table consisted of a simple under-structure which cants to one side giving it a feeling of barely being balanced and able to stay standing. This table started as a quick project following a stressful spring semester. My intention was to engage, in a more relaxed atmosphere, the design and construction of a piece of furniture which would act kind of like a counterbalance against the previous few months. Little did I imagine this simple piece would lay the foundation for my thesis and even more importantly bring to my consciousness a concept that I have buried within myself and have personally struggled with, The idea of balance.
From this original piece I created three more small wood tables each time making some nuanced changes in the leg structure, joinery, or the top. With these slightly different details I was able to finesse the table and make some conscious investments into developing my idea of balance. I then changed direction regarding material and color on the remaining body of work, creating three metal and glass tables. The first a small side table that was thin and tall and fiery red. The second a low elegantly poised, gleaming black coffee table and the third piece, I looked at developing a relationship with the wall as part of the dynamic balance I was striving for. With these three pieces I was also using color as an element of balance. I used black, red, and white, with the black and white as the two extremes and the red as a central color with a dynamic finish of swirls and candy apple.
Success varied with each piece as I looked to investigate subtle variations of balance and composition but overall I feel my investigation into the concepts of dynamic balance and the relationship I tried to manifest with the physical pieces and the conceptual idea was not only successful as a body of work but even more so as an inspiration and investigation into my own journey as a designer maker.
Library of Congress Subject Headings
Tables--Design; Proportion (Art)
Furniture Design (MFA)
Department, Program, or Center
School for American Crafts (CAD)
Zeh, Mark, "Dynamic Balance: A Personal Journey" (2020). Thesis. Rochester Institute of Technology. Accessed from
RIT – Main Campus