Gorstohl is an interactive furniture product and a symbol of my hybrid identity as a multi-ethnic immigrant designer.
Before introducing the product concept, I have to explain my origin and identity so you can understand the cultural connection.
I was born in Uzbekistan, the country of bread and warmth. Uzbekistan is a post Soviet Union country that welcomes a melting pot of racial backgrounds, including my bloodline of Korean ancestors. We refer to ourselves as Koryo-Saram. Today, I am a 20 something year old pursuing a design career in the United States. As a designer, I wanted Gorstohl to be more than just a table. I wanted the product to be a cultural statement and to be multi-functional in an individual or social setting. For aesthetics, I combined traditional Asian furniture with Uzbek textiles to create a blend of two worlds. I also wanted the table to be more than a cultural decor piece. It had to have meaning and purpose so the table acts as a heating unit, drawing board, and storage container.
In many Asian countries there are cultural customs where people will sit and dine on the floor. As a response, low level furniture was created over time to accomodate for these social practices.
A unique textile that originates from Uzbekistan and is believed to be woven with protective magic. Each Suzani motif represents joy, fertility, long life, and good health. I outsourced a Shakhrisabz Suzani textile to be used as a blanket for this project.
These are some of the initial ideations I worked through when I was thinking about the concept behind Gorstohl. I wanted to combine the function of the table and explore possible social settings. I also wanted to pay attention to the ergonomics for the user, hence the angle of the propped up drafting board.
This page explains how the table was engineered and will be constructed. I created a 3d model of the product in Rhino for an easy to follow exploded view and used it to construct the final product in the wood shop.
After using Gorstohl for several weeks, these are the changes I would make if I could redo the project in the future.
Better Wood Choice
I would play around with different wood materials that is more durable and sustainably sourced. I used a cheaper wood due to student budget but the edges of the frame started to curl and chip. The wood staining created a beautiful color but it would be interesting to see how a cherry-red or mahogany color would look on the table.
Different Support Frame
I would change the back view of the support frames because the angle hides the joint pieces which fold awkwardly at times when I prop the top board up to draw. I would also add a removable paper holder at the bottom of the top piece so papers would be blocked from sliding down the board when propped up for drawing.
I created a flat and thin cover for the top of the table so I would be able to flip it back and forth easily. However, I realized I could have made the table look more attractive by using a CNC machine to create a beautiful pattern on the top. I could also cover the pattern with clear acrylic or glass to elevate the product aesthetics and durability. If I could add a pattern, I would choose another Uzbek or Korean pattern to add for more cultural symbolism.
Because it was my first time creating an industrial product in the wood shop, I used simple techniques when building the frame. I wanted the product to be durable enough to hold weight but still light enough for me to transport on my own. One way I could have explored this further is by creating folding legs and a flat bottom piece which could be packed into a car trunk.