This Impossible Table Is A Half-Ton Of Perfectly Balanced Steel

The Poised table by U.K. designer Paul Cocksedge looks like a curled piece of paper, but it won’t topple over.

Here’s a table you will never accidentally tip over: The Poised table by British designer Paul Cocksedge might look dangerously off-kilter, but it’s so perfectly and mathematically balanced that it would take a Tyrannosaurus to knock it over.


Born in 1978, Cocksedge studied industrial design at Sheffield Hallam University and product design under Ron Arad at the Royal College of Art in London. Since opening the Paul Cocksedge Studio in 2004, with Joana Pinho, Cocksedge has become known for a number of innovative designs that somehow evoke a feeling of magical realism.

The Poised table is no exception. Looking at it, you can’t believe that a simple curl of metal can remain balanced yet alone support the weight of a man standing on top of it.

“The inspiration for Poised comes from the elegance and amenability of paper,” explains Cocksedge. “The first model was simply a piece of paper held up and rolled over. For me, the project was all about exploring the limits of balance and not being scared off by failure in the process. In the initial tests, the table simply toppled over, but the project took a surprising turn when we found the correct balance of weight, curves, and twists.”

According to Cocksedge, a large portion of the project was spent simply (or not so simply) trying to get the math right. After a year pursuing an intensive series of calculations regarding gravity, mass, and equilibrium, he finally thought he had found it, but his calculations required a single sheet of 20-millimeter steel plate to be gradually rolled under intense force into the finished shape, just like a sheet of paper. The result of all of this is that while the Poised table might look thin and as elegant as a curled up magazine cover, it’s actually made up of half a ton’s worth of pure steel. Pretty incredible.

The Poised table can be seen over the coming month from September 12 to October 12 as part of Cocksedge’s Capture exhibit at the Friedman Benda gallery in New York.