Available from Herman Miller in early 2013, the AGL Group, designed by Leon Ransmeier, maintains a slim profile by running wires through extruded-aluminum posts.

Ransmeier drew inspiration from aircraft design to create a strong structure that’s visually light.

The width is slightly narrower than conventional conference tables, to encourage collaboration.

The table will come in two versions: powered and unpowered.

It’s versatile enough to be used in a dining room or a C-suite.

Underneath the table, slender trays hold four simplex outlets and enough space for cords, transformers, or the tablet computers of two people seated on either side.

The trays are engineered to handle tangled cords when opening and closing.

The trays are engineered to handle tangled cords when opening and closing.

From Herman Miller, A Slender Table That's A High-Powered Workstation

The modern conference table is a massive, hulking beast. But it doesn’t have to be.

Our computers have grown exponentially sleeker and thinner over the last decade. But the surfaces we work on have responded to the challenge of accommodating devices by getting bulkier and heavier. Herman Miller’s AGL Group, designed by Leon Ransmeier, takes a refreshingly different approach, using as little material as possible to build a slender yet strong structure that conceals unsightly wires.

Ransmeier says that he was inspired by the material efficiency of aircraft design, supporting the activities of users without muddling the form with fussy detailing. The result is a sturdy wing of a table, with subtly tapered edges. Extruded aluminum posts provide channels for wiring, which can be easily fitted inside without tools or cover panels. Underneath the table, slender trays hold four simplex outlets and enough space for cords, transformers, or the tablet computers of two people seated on either side. “The AGL power delivery system was designed around use—both socially and ergonomically,” Ransmeier tells Co.Design. “[It] was designed to enable creative collaboration rather than detached competition,” resulting in a long and slightly narrower width than standard tables of its size.

But the New York designer didn’t arrive at that look right away: “I was approaching the form of the components in what could be described as a geometrically ‘rationalist’ manner, which worked for a while. It was only once we built a large prototype that it immediately became obvious that my ‘rationality’ had been foolhardy—in addition to clearance issues in several places, a notable figure at Herman Miller asked if the proportion of the extrusions didn’t remind me of 2x4s.” It was then that he took a more sculptural approach, drawing inspiration from Charles Eames’s insight into designing with aluminum:

When you’ve committed yourself to [aluminum] casting, you’ve committed yourself to a plastic material and the kind of freedom that can really give you the willies. At that moment you find yourself face to face with sculpture, and it can scare the pants off you.

In the end, Ransmeier conquered the fear, producing a desk that is a model of sophistication and restraint. The table will be available for order from Herman Miller in early 2013 and come two versions (powered or unpowered) and eight sizes, the smallest of which (42 by 85 inches) can be used as an executive desk or dining surface; the largest, at more than 18 feet, can seat up to 16 people. Go for more details.

Add New Comment

7 Comments

  • 21064A01

    I have several power adapters here that have 90 DEG prongs, so how would I plug those in that narrow opening?

    The narrow opening and limited wall jacks are not inspiring, but nice try though.

  • Sam G

    The whole point of the design is that you dont have to crawl around on the floor to plug your laptop in—something you might not want to do in front of your coworkers or the clients you're trying to impress—nor clutter the center of the table up with a tangle power cords and transformers. We tend to carry devices that *sometimes* requiring charging during a meeting. This is a solution for those situations that is discreet and elegant. 

  • Hawkinsonjoyce

    Put a slit down the center, border it with flexible rubber, and let the cords escape there to be plugged in below.  

  • Ellie K

    That sounds like a better solution to me! Also, a flexible rubber bordered opening down the middle has the benefit of allowing as many people as possible to use the table. The article says that there are only two workstation trays with electrical outlets on each (long) side of the rectangular table, which means it only can accommodate four people! Perhaps the 16-person sized table has more of those trays?

    Why does the table need a powered and unpowered version? What is the power used for? Is it for raising and lowering the height, or for something else? No, not for raising and lowering the table, I just re-read, but for electrical wiring in the legs of the table. Now I'm totally confused! The link to Herman Miller's AGL group is missing, see the last sentence "Go for more details". That would probably help.

    The most traditional design aspect of this table is also its strong point, in my opinion, namely, the rounded, slightly downward sloping edge has been a feature of Herman Miller furniture for decades. It provides a uniquely comfortable work surface! Also, Herman Miller furniture is very durable, well made, endures lots of abuse even by children and college students, for years. Those design features aren't glamorous, but DO have great merit.

  • Ken

    Not terribly impressed with the cable management solution. Doesn't feel very elegant to have the cords hanging out the front...

  • Matthew Deslauriers

    I might counter that it seems like a particularly efficient way to manage cables considering that conference tables are usually only used by individuals for shorter periods of time than proper desks.