Howard Hughes Coffee Table

dedication to reduction and simplicity

06 OCTOBER 2018


The first thing you see when walking through a door always speaks volumes about the home, office or person you’re visiting. Whatever enjoys this pride of place sets the tone for your visit and, in many ways, serves as a quick introduction to what the person who curates the space you’re entering holds dear.

In the case of AB Design Studio, the Howard Hughes Coffee table enjoys this priority position. Instead of making an overwhelming statement, however, it blends in seamlessly with its surrounds, opting for subtlety over sensation.

Inspiration for the design

Inspired by Eastern philosophy and minimalism, this coffee table is a prime example of Aidan Bennetts’ dedication to reduction and simplicity.

“I’ve always been fascinated by the Japanese art of origami and, at the time of designing the table, was doing a series of classes. Essentially, I was interested in seeing whether you can manipulate metal in the same way you do paper to come up with a similar aesthetic,” Bennetts explains.

He set to work and, after some experimentation, perfected the Howard Hughes design.

“What I wanted to do with the shape, was play with a sense of perspective. So, if you look at the table from a variety of different angles, you get an interesting array of perspectives happening,” explains Bennetts.

From the side, for instance, it looks like a perfect rectangle, but from any other angle draws the eyes in unexpected directions.

Materials used and colour options

Like the process behind creating intricate origami shapes, the table is manufactured using a single sheet of material. In this case, 8 millimetres of hot-pressed mild steel.

The metal is laser cut and bent to the 90-degree angles using Computer Numeric Control (CNC). Once the raw metal is bent, the edges are de-burled and given a rounding.

It comes in a variety of finishes, with antique brass and copper electroplate being the most popular thus far. Bennetts adds that they’ve also done a few raw ones – where it’s just the steel sealed in polyurethane – that turned out being quite striking.

“I love the fact that – in its raw format – there is nothing more to this piece than a single sheet of metal,” says Bennetts. “It’s minimalism to its core.”

One of the unexpected design features that makes the Howard Hughes Coffee table a popular choice in homes where simplicity reigns supreme, is the fact that it lends itself to being stacked quite easily.

“Because of its slender tail piece, you can stack another coffee table over it quite successfully. Funnily enough, we stumbled upon this when a customer experimented with different layouts. So, that was kind of a happy accident.”

Despite its slim frame, the coffee table is rather heavy, weighing in at about 50kg, offering a physical testament to the substantial place it can fill in a carefully curated space.

What’s in a name?

Of course, bestowing a suitable name on a product so striking, is hardly a walk in the park. Yet, Howard Hughes seems to fit perfectly

“I’ve always been fascinated by Howard Hughes – even prior to the release of The Aviator,” says Bennetts. “He was a crazy, crazy person, but really a brilliant genius. I have a massive respect and admiration for him and thought that the table’s process was sort of a homage to his rapid industrialisation of the aviation industry.”

Where you will find the Howard Hughes

To find out more about the Howard Hughes Coffee Table or to place your order, please visit our Contact page.

Nadia Krige