You’ve heard of folding tables, but have you ever come across a ‘rolling table’? No, I’m not talking about tables that roll around with wheels at the bottom. The Sofan is a table that quite literally ‘rolls up’ like a really large burrito or a yoga mat, making it easy to carry around with you. It uses a series of folding legs and a segmented upper tabletop surface that rolls up to become a cylindrical mass that’s compact enough to carry under your arm.
Designer: Qi An
The way the Sofan table works is just remarkably clever. The table’s foldable legs act as a framework for the entire product, giving it rigidity. The legs fold flat when they’re not in use, allowing the segmented tabletop surface to roll up into a cylinder. However, open the legs up in their diagonal fashion and they literally prevent the tabletop surface from folding. This results in a rigid upper surface that’s perfect for books, cups, plates, gadgets, or anything else you’d need to put on the Sofan table.
The Sofan is made of toona (or redcedar) wood, found in parts of Asia, predominantly Afghanistan, Papua New Guinea, and North/South Korea. The table is made using a combination of hand-crafting techniques and CNC machining for high accuracy and low tolerances. The individual segments of the tabletop are linked together using steel pipes that run through them, creating a set of hinged points.
While folding furniture has been around for centuries, rolling furniture hasn’t really permeated the zeitgeist. We’ve seen the odd example of a rolling chair before, but just functionally, rolling furniture doesn’t hold any significant advantages over its folding counterparts. That being said, the sheer idea and the execution deserve merit. It’s no wonder that the Sofan table won a Bronze prize at the 2023 A’ Design Award.