By Alix Norman
How often does the internet go crazy over a piece of furniture? Pause. Well, never in my memory, certainly. Online sensations of the past year have included cats and cucumbers, liquored up grandmas and even the odd politician’s hairpiece (you know who I mean). Furniture, however, has been noticeably absent from the list we might optimistically title ‘Things Gone Viral’. Until now…
For the last week, it seems that every time I check my Facebook feed there’s another picture of the amazing ‘Wave City Coffee Table’. Bloggers are reposting it, designers are raving aboutit, and even the public have jumped on board the share wagon. And the man behind the concept is none other than Larnaca-based designer Stelios Mousarris – practically a neighbour! – and his company, which produces the now infamous piece of furniture, is a mere three months old!
“Mousarris has only been running for two months and 28 days!” Stelios reveals, when I track him. “I’d been working as a design assistant for Duffy London when I realised I wanted to create something for myself. So I quit my job in the UK and moved back to Cyprus. Everyone,” he adds with a laugh, “said I was crazy. ’Don’t do it!’ they told me. ‘Don’t quit!’ But I had ideas, and I just had a feeling that this would work…”
Still, I suggest, it’s unusual for a young designer, no matter how great his talents, to become such a sensation this early on in his career. Of course, he does hold a Bachelors in Model Making from Bournemouth, and has been commissioned to design a number of up-and-coming restaurants in the UK, but still!
“Well,” he muses, “I’ve always been into the 3D form, even as a child. I was always interested in how things were built, how they were put together. As a kid I’d drive my parents mad by taking apart my toys to see how they were made and how they worked, so this isn’t just something that happened overnight!” While he freely admits he was “a terrible student at school – I always preferred making something to academic work” and “wasn’t even any good at drawing”, what he did possess was a love of the 3D form and that, he divulges, led him into model making. “Of course, I never had the patience to actually build model planes or anything like that when I was a younger, but the patience appeared along with my studies,” he says. “During my Bachelors, I discovered architectural modelling, which I loved. And I guess that’s how the table came about: balancing architecture with product design.”
For the very few who may not have seen ‘the table’, it’s a fantastical creation of whimsy and delight; a perfect-to-the-last detail rendition of a sprawling metropolis flipped back on itself and entrapped by a wave. Skyscrapers reaching for the heavens brush the tops of their inverted counterparts; tower blocks hang down from the underside or the surface like man-made stalactites; cathedrals and temples, offices and stadiums seem to defy gravity as the structure curves into an almost organic wave.
You can see why it’s such a hit: Stelios has produced an almost Escher-like creation in three dimensions. And the internet has quickly embraced the piece, calling it, aptly, The ‘Inception’ Table after a visually captivating scene from the 2010 film of the same name which demonstrates the protagonist’s ability to bend the world. But, although Inception is indeed one of Stelios’ favourite movies, it actually had nothing to do with the table itself.
“I blame the web for the name ‘Inception Table’,” he laughs. “I actually called the piece the ‘Wave City Coffee Table’; but I don’t think anyone would have listened had I said it wasn’t based on the film!” In fact, the idea originated with a programme on tsunamis that inspired Stelios to experiment with various types of wave form. “I wanted to come up with a coffee table because it was something I didn’t have a lot of in my portfolio, and I was watching a documentary about tsunamis. It inspired me to think about combining the shape of a wave with something organic, man-made – and this was the simple yet effective result.”
The pictures that everyone has been raving about, it transpires, are actually a computer rendering of the finished product. The actual table is still in the process of being made. “The photographs you see are a render,” Stelios explains. “Each table takes about six weeks of work: they’re made of steel, wood, and 3D printing technology, and some of the 80-odd buildings – each of which is unique – take up to eight hours to print,” he says, adding that the table is so solid and perfectly balanced that you could “stand right on the edge and it won’t tilt or fall or anything! Though I wouldn’t suggest jumping on it!” he laughs. It’s crucial, he adds, to have a really good carpenter, and an excellent engineer (Stelios has chosen Nicosia-based experts G Lab 3D Print) involved in the making of this 80kg, one metre by 50cm by 45 cm coffee table. And only then can you start to roll out the finished piece…
Speaking of which, Stelios is adamant that only 25 in total will be made, despite the fact that he’s already received over 45 orders for this €5,000 a pop piece. “Since I first posted the renderings on Greek design blog ‘Design is This’ I’ve been receiving about three emails an hour,” he says, sounding slightly stressed. But he perks up when he discloses that his very first order came from “someone very famous in the film industry; I can’t tell you who, but they’re very big!”
Curiosity piqued, I suggest a few names, but Stelios is discretion itself when it comes to his clients. What he will reveal, however, is that along with his newest designs (“based on thrust and rockets and levitation”) he’s also planning to turn out a dining table version of the Wave City Coffee Table, which he hopes will be “of equally high quality and just as surprising. When I design something, I want viewers to look at it for more than 10 seconds; I want them to think ‘How on earth did he think of that?’”
Well, with more than 35 thousand views of his coffee table on one site alone, Stelios has certainly succeeded in wowing the public with his innovative design. But with all 25 of the original design now snapped up, there’s little hope of getting your hands on the internet’s biggest furniture sensation. Unless, of course, you’re willing to wait for the larger version, which will be moving into production “in the near future”. Cheque books to the fore, and watch this space… Or, even better, watch the net, because from now on, anything by Mousarris is bound to go viral!
For more information on ‘The Wave City Coffee Table’ by Stelios Mousarris, visit www.mousarris.com or the Facebook page ‘Mousarris’, or call 99 881723