During a visit to Northern Ireland, David Knowles encountered the Giant’s Causeway, a volcanic landscape in which interlocking hexagonal columns of black basalt rise dramatically from the ocean. Inspired by this natural feature, David created GC18, a bespoke coffee table that fuses sculptural elements with functional design.
“Four hundred cast Jesmonite hexagons represent the causeway’s 40,000 basalt columns, replicating their aesthetic qualities and majestic flowing forms," says David. "A regulated pattern with equal spacing emphasises the individual character of each hexagon, yet combines them into a single entity with defined multifaceted levels. Supported by a minimalist blackened steel frame, the outer hexagons overhang, adding depth and intrigue.
“The shape of the tabletop is based on the overall formation of the Giant’s Causeway itself. The even gaps between the hexagons emphasise their individuality, but also allow you to see light between the hexagons. As you move around the table, these gaps of light move and change with you – which is one of my favourite elements. The flat areas on the table mimic the flat plateaus of the Giant’s Causeway – but also allow you to place items down on it.
“Jesmonite is a non-toxic, acrylic-based resin. Each individual hexagon went through eight different processes – casting, cutting, sanding, two rounds of routing, polishing, sealing and gluing – from start to finish, making the table a real labour of love.
“The planning and logistics of designing and making a table with so many unique elements was one of the greatest challenges. Some of the graphic aids and ‘maps’ designed for the organisation and logistics of the table are nearly as stunning as the table itself. A lot of consideration went into capturing unique details of the Giant’s Causeway – for example, each hexagon has either a flat, convex or concave top, like the basalt columns at the causeway. Some of the concave tops have been highly polished to mimic the pooling of water which adds contrast in texture and catches the light beautifully in different lights.”
David left school with an interest in fine art and expected to eventually pursue a career in graphic design. However, during his Foundation Diploma at Leeds Arts University, he found his true calling in product and furniture design. He recently graduated from Northumbria University with a first-class honours degree in 3D Design.
David’s dk1 chair saw him shortlisted for recognition at the Northern Design Festival 2017. Since graduating, David has exhibited his work at designjunction, New Designers and the Young Furniture Makers exhibition. He won the Rado Star Prize UK 2018 competition at the former event, and came third in the latter’s design awards. Last October, he accepted a job offer from retailer Kitchen Architecture as a kitchen fitter/designer, and has worked there since.
David’s long-term aim is to establish his own bespoke furniture and product design studio, and to work on pieces that blur the lines between the art world and the design industry.
“The ideas that keep you awake at night are those worth staying awake for,” he concludes.
Find David on Instagram here.