Loop Table

The story of the Loop Table is a significant one for Barber & Osgerby. It was the first piece of furniture that Edward and Jay designed together and it launched them into the Italian furniture world. They were commissioned to design a restaurant in South Kensington in London, whilst still students at the Royal College of Art. In one part of the restaurant there was an area of low seating and it was for this area that the table was designed. The idea for the Loop Table was to have a table that incorporated some storage space for magazines and menus. Barber & Osgerby had already worked on some studies to create enclosed forms in the white card used for architectural model making at the RCA. Their first forays into furniture model making had a distinctly planar quality. Folding and slotting card together created a visual language for these early experiments. People have often commented that the Loop Table has an architectural quality. There is also something about the visual language of the table that is reminiscent of Trellick’s architectural details. It was a formative starting point and made Barber & Osgerby realise that they wanted to do much more with furniture.

  • Year / 1997
  • Manufacturer / Isokon

The budget for the restaurant project never allowed the Loop Table to be realised, and in fact the cardboard model sat on the shelf in their studio for a year before finally deciding to have a prototype made. The seemingly simple design requires great accuracy to manufacture. The table is made from two identical sections of bent plywood that meet seamlessly. Their quest for a manufacturer led them to Chris McCourt, who owned a woodwork shop in west London and also owned Isokon Plus, the highly experimental furniture company first set up in 1935 under the direction of Marcel Breuer.

Chris was so taken with the table after seeing the design and then the prototype, that it was introduced into the Isokon Plus range, the first new piece for over forty years. He became a huge supporter of Barber & Osgerby’s work, working alongside them with many of their early designs.

The Loop Table was first shown at the London design fair in 1997. Wallpaper* magazine was then in its first year and Tyler Brulé, the Editor and founder of the magazine, had invited Barber & Osgerby to design a stand. The table was displayed on the stand and was spotted by Giulio Cappellini. The Loop Table was then introduced into the Cappellini collection at the Milan furniture fair the following year. This was the start of what has become a long and successful relationship with the renowned Italian manufacturer. The table was also widely acclaimed in the international press and was soon acquired by both the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Victoria & Albert Museum in London for their permanent collections.