Wendell Castle’s tables make for great dinnertime conversation. We recently had a chance to chat him up a bit about the dining tables that have sprung from the reservoir of creativity in his mind. He was a bit distracted as caterers were setting up for a reception at his artist’s studio, which actually was his first house, but that’s a subject for another blog.
His favorite dining table in the Wendell Castle Collection is the Paragon (below), an architectural wonder on 10 post legs. “My philosophy is to have as few legs as possible or a whole lot,” explains Wendell. “I’ve created pieces of furniture that have had a dozen legs.” In the case of the Paragon, without leaves the legs fit in between each other, making two rows of legs. When the table is pulled open and a leaf inserted, the legs open up and there are four rows of legs, 3-2-3-2. “This is the only table that I made a model of so that I could see how the legs shift back and forth,” says Wendell. There are plans to bring back the Paragon to the Wendell Castle Collection on the occasion of the artist’s milestone 80th birthday next year.
Most of Wendell’s tables don’t have leaves, but they have a sense of humor or an air of mystery. These seem to be trademark attributes in Wendell’s work. The MC2 table (below), for example, started out with the base, which is a jumbo jack. Wendell is so intrigued by the jack that he has four in his office that he has stacked. “They look like sculpture,” he muses. What an idea: Store the tabletop and stack the jacks to make a most whimsical sculpture!
Thomas Lavin, who owns the stylish showroom in the Pacific Design Center, favors the MC2 in white. “It’s clean, sculptural, contemporary, sophisticated!” It has been quite popular; he has sold dozens.
The magical quality of the Sorcerer drop-leaf veneered table (above) is that it can be displayed as a diamond or it can virtually disappear if folded and stored. It can be a square table, a triangular table (one leaf down), or a hall table (two leaves down). Fully open, it is a near-4-foot-square table with 30 luscious wood veneer options and 15 lacquers. Wendell likes the idea that a person who has a party can use the Sorcerer to augment the dining table. “You can put your hors d’oeuvres on it,” he says, adding, “It’s good for apartment living in New York. If you had a small place you could put it away.” He should know; he has a small apartment in New York.
Remember the blog prior to this one about the finishes? Well, it is all in the finishes, and the Tokyo table (below) not only shows off the Wendell Castle Collection’s talents in world-class veneers but it also demonstrates classic joinery techniques. You can see it below in two entirely different finishes. The first is in Olmsted Walnut with a satin sheen and the second is polished Macassar ebony with an ebonized walnut stretcher (and feet) with a satin sheen. As for the name, Wendell came up with it after the piece was completed, which is his m.o. “After the fact, there seemed to be something Oriental about it, even though that was never the intention,” says Wendell. “When I put a combination of parts together it gave that impression.”
And Wendell’s preference for his own home? The dining table, at his house in upstate New York, near the University of Rochester, consists of a large oval top perched on 12 cone-shaped legs with brass rings hanging from four red brackets underneath the tabletop. It is a one-off art piece that Wendell made in 1980. He named it Never Complain, Never Explain after a quote he says came from the British Prime Minister Disraeli. “I believe in that sentiment, and I wanted to put a message on the top of the table, then I wanted to hide it,” says Wendell. The quote is actually embedded in the fair-hued holly table top as a series of inlaid amaranth (purple heart) dots spaced out across the surface. “No one can find it unless I point out where to start,” says Wendell.
We’d like to hear from you about which Wendell Castle Collection tables you like.