Items and Icons: tables

Conceptual tables inhabit the gap between things you can use and abstract sculpture. Rupert Williamson's chunky 20ft birchwood construction won the Contemporary Applied Arts craft centre's prize for a banqueting table to celebrate its 50th anniversary this year. Following speeches, the 50 sputtering candelabra were whisked off it before the hot candlewax roasted the double-layered maple veneer. The asymmetrical form is the first to be computer-generated by Williamson, 53, who lectures and researches in furniture design at Buckinghamshire College, High Wycombe. The FormZ software showed how the legs should cross over the rail, each secured by a single 8mm steel bolt. The tabletop grips the protruding tops of the legs by gravity alone. Williamson says: "You could work it out with a pencil, but I wouldn't want to." And the loading? "That was intuitive". Price: pounds 20,000 (01908 221885 or 661001).

From the Russian artists who brought us the edible extravaganza "Three Tonnes of Food in One Go" in Shoreditch last November, a tabletop with a half-eaten dinner immortalised by embedding in clear resin. Unus Safardiar, 29, and 40-year-old Vitaly V (his minimalist surname is adopted), both graduates of the Russian Academy of Art in St Petersburg, came to Britain during the Gorbachev reforms. When they are not creating gigantic foodie artworks in their studio - the former Barclays Bank in Shoreditch High Street, east London - they are working on the Moscow Millennium Dome project. They spent about pounds 2,500 on the dinner: besides lobster, prawns, Caribbean red snapper and strawberries, they bought Wedgwood crockery, silver cutlery and 200 kilos of resin at pounds 10 a kilo. Two of the meals remain untouched because dinner invitations to art critics went astray. Molten resin at 80-90oF has subdued the colours of the food to the mellowness of a Dutch Old Master still life - except for the prawns, which are redder than ever. The food has shrunk a bit, leaving a silvery vapour in the resinous cavities. But the two artists are convinced the artwork will last indefinitely as the first sculpture created by knives, forks and teeth. Price pounds 7,800 (0171- 277 2018).

Conceptual to the point of dysfunction and revelling in it - Ralph Ball's punning T.4.4 table. In the mid-Eighties, when he worked for Foster Associates, the architects, his Nomos table with spindly legs and landing-pad feet became a much-copied iconic design. Ball, 47, a senior lecturer in industrial design at the RCA, says he decided to copy it himself - by turning it upside down. "It's an object rather than a piece of furniture," he says. "It would have to be bought by a gallery or a collector. I don't know who would actually use it." Well, you could try resting your teacup on the upturned feet. Price: pounds 1,700 (0171-590 4323).

And from the defining voice of British conceptual furniture, Ron Arad, a unique "Honeycomb table" replete with sexual references. The "sperm feet" are coloured steel discs with tubular steel tails and the tabletop is two lumpy sheets of glass sandwiching honeycomb aluminium shards of steel and float glass, engraved by that other furniture-making tearaway Danny Lane. Bonhams has estimated it fetching pounds 4,000-pounds 6,000 in their Design sale on 25 February (6pm). Enquiries, 0171-393 3900

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