• 04.04.13

A Modern Table Lifted Straight From A Renaissance Painting

During a visit to Berlin, Mark Moskovitz spotted a strangely modern table in a 15th-century painting. And now it’s spawned an entire furniture line.

For designer Mark Moskovitz, a 2005 award fellowship spent in Berlin was inspirational, in a slow-burning kind of way. Rather than stick to the studio during his first foray in Germany’s capital city, he took to the streets on foot, by bike, and via Smart Car with camera and notebook in hand, and while browsing the Gemaldegalerie, which holds one of the world’s leading collections of European painting, a “charming little” work depicting Jesus having his feet cleaned with a maiden’s hair jumped out at him. Moskovitz was drawn to its inaccurate visual perspective, and–most significant–a thoroughly intriguing piece of furniture. “I’d never trolled paintings for design inspiration so it was random, but I locked in on the table leg,” he says. “It was really striking how different it was from others of this era and how modern it looked.”


He sketched it out on the fly for reference, but it wasn’t until seven years later that he decided to revisit his quick illustration. “Considering the idea was low hanging fruit since the Renaissance, it didn’t seem that long to put it off,” he says. And as it turns out, it was well worth the wait. “In that gap, Google Art Project was born.”

As he hadn’t noted the name of the work or the artist, tracking it down would have been nigh impossible without use of the incredible tech. He took a virtual tour through the museum, and after two hours he tracked down the original: Feast in the House of Simon, by Dieric Bouts. (This reality represents an interesting aside to the debate regarding how the service is irrevocably changing the way we interact with art.)

The thrill was enough to inspire an entire new series in oak and powder-coated aluminum. Moskovitz started with the table. “A fairly straight interpretation,” he says, with the geometry every-so-slightly adjusted to make it sit more stably. That interpretive process led to a coffee table, followed by a chair, then a bench. “Sometimes trying to grow a collection from a single piece feels forced, but these pieces evolved fairly naturally.” With a little digital hat-tip, of course.

Contact Mark via his site for purchasing info.