Space is a premium in many big cities, especially for a couple living in a small condo with a love of dinner parties and a baby on the way. Furniture designer Anand Gowda, Los Angeles, CA, designed a space-saving Claro walnut folding dining table for a San Franciso couple that would allow them to entertain guests in a small flat.

According to Gowda, this couple works in the restaurant industry and they love having friends over for dinner. “So they wanted a table that could seat six to eight people, but they also wanted it to convert into a three-seater for the two of them and their child,” he says.

The original plan was to design a Murphy table that folds down from the wall, but Gowda was concerned about the weight, so he decided to try a different concept — a convertible dining table.

After several mock ups he came up with the idea of a folding table mainly because there would be no heavy parts to swing down, and it would be easier to convert from three seats to eight.

“Once I showed the clients the idea they were excited about it,” Gowda says.

Using skills learned as an apprentice for a high-end cabinetmaker in Boston, as well as a metal worker, and his industrial product design degree from the Wentworth Institute of Technology, he came up with a way to fabricate this challenging, yet deceptively simple-looking design.

“At the beginning I did some drawings and cardboard mock ups and folding mock ups,” Gowda says. “Once I got the folding idea down as far as the hinging and engineering, then I started doing full-scale mock ups with plywood and 2x4s.”

Gowda used invisible hinges mortised in the end grain of the table top. He experimented some more and once the engineering was in the final stages, he invited the clients to come in and test it – folding and unfolding to make sure the design worked. They loved it.

The table, now mounted to a wall and folding out like a peninsula in the clients’ tiny, U-shaped kitchen, was made with Claro walnut, chosen for its density and color and because it was green. The bookmatched slab was salvaged lumber Gowda picked up at a shop in Northern California.

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