Meet Alba: Our modular bedside table
More than 10,000 options to choose from.
The idea behind Alba, our modular table, began with wanting to create something completely different, and at home the perfect opportunity was already waiting: bedside tables. Bedside tables are usually standard looking and share very similar characteristics. They are either round or square, with 2-3 drawers, long or short legs, amongst other traits that make the product fall into somewhat of a boring, traditional piece. There was a huge possibility of creating an innovative product that would break with all the norms of the category.
Starting the Design Process
“We got inspired and sketched out ideas of how the product could look like. This is the part we enjoyed the most,” designer Daniel García shares. “The whole sketching process is always very interesting. There are a whole lot of different possibilities of where you can take the product.” At the beginning, ideas shifted from tables with legs to tables without legs, hanging or standing, with traditional storage, hidden storage, etc. This is when Woodendot designers realized that they could create a modular system in which users could design their products to their own liking. “Our whole design process shifted at this point. We were no longer looking to create a unitary product but a modular system.”
“We realized that by superimposing panels, we could create something outstandingly different, simple, functional and minimalist, patterns that all Wooden products shared. This was our big lightbulb-over-the-head moment,” Daniel continues. “It was impressive how with only 3 elements we could create a whole bedside table system.” At this moment, the direction changed into trying to figure out which shapes the panels would have. From one idea, a thousand others popped up.
“You’re constantly opening and closing the fan of possibilities. Taking ideas and creating new ones, opening to even more possibilities.” The result is three pieces. A back panel, a shelf and two types of frontal panels in the shapes of the sun and moon. This is where the naming for the product came about, Alba meaning “dawn or dusk” in Spanish. Based on the shapes of the panels that look like a background (the back panel), water (the shelf) and the sun or the moon reflecting on the water (the front panel). The result is a perfect name considering how the whole product is assembled, and how it looks when seeing it from up front.
From Alba, to Alba M
The type of modular design that Alba has adds even much more to it than the ability to just function as a bedside table, if its proportions were changed a little, it could also work as a shelf that could apply to any type of wall. This is where the Alba M size originated.
“There were a couple of challenges in the making of the Alba you have come to know about. One of our greatest was figuring out how to hold together the three panels while hiding the pieces that kept them together,” Daniel tells us. “We had to design pieces that could be concealed but gave the table enough strength . This is where our super resistant lacquered steel plate comes in play.” Another challenge was that the whole system had to be able to work both facing right and left. Since clients had to be able to set it up however they wanted. “Our solution was making sure that both faces of the panel were exactly the same, with the same finish and quality so that it would work if placed in any direction.”
Unique Modular Shape
What makes our Alba modular table stand out among other products is the fact that its shape is completely different. There’s nothing similar for standard bedside tables in the market. It’s hidden compartments in between panels add a differentiating factor to it. The smaller front panel works better for hiding everyday objects like the cellphone when charging. This works perfectly because of the little hole added to Alba specifically for cables.
Talking a little bit about the crafting process, Daniel shares that it always begins with prototypes. “We began with 5 different prototypes, each one with their own evolutions. First, we work them in paper and then we delve into the process of prototyping with MDF wood. During this process, we realized that the slots where the pieces would slide needed to be extremely exact. They couldn’t be too tight that the other pieces wouldn’t slide, nor too loose that the pieces wouldn’t hold together. They had to fit perfectly.”
Produced in series, Albas are cut precisely and later taken to the workshop to paint. Its metal pieces are custom to perfectly go with the product. When an order arrives, the pieces are picked and shipped together in a flat box. This includes the 3 different panels, screws and the manual. You get to decide how you want to set it up, there are different combinations possible for Alba. This ends in a total of 8 different set up possibilities.
Alba in the Market
With only a few months since its release, Alba has had more than a positive reception. Many upcoming design projects have already selected Alba as an essential part of their interiors. The media has had its fair talk about the products, with articles appearing in Elle Decor Magazine or Design Boom. Also, expositions like Producto Fresco in Madrid and DesignerBox in Paris. Finally, prizes like Iconic Design Award 2019 and honorable mention in the 2018 IDAs.
Daniel García has two albas at home, an oak Oval, gray shelf and a blue moon front panel. This last one combines perfectly with the floor at home and other elements around the bedroom. “We have every product we design at home,” he finished.