Table story, picture above
Dr Carl Dohn and his son Brent piece the table together Thursday at Sea Island. (Brant Sanderlin photo/AJC)
The Sea Island Co. chose Dr. Carl Dohn, a skilled amateur woodworker and St. Simons OB/GYN, from among a pool of candidates to create the table at which the G-8 delegates will sit during next week's summit. Dohn worked with architect Stephen Baker of Boston's Baker Design Group to design a table that would integrate high-technology needs with classic design. The table was unveiled Thursday.
Table's diameter: 15 feet (fully assembled)
Table's height: 2'6" (Not including raised alcove tray)
The table's design is an homage to famed furniture maker Sam Maloof, an inspiration of Dohn's. Main construction used only wood joints -- no nails or screws. Smoothing and finishing was done by hand, using vintage tools or tools based on those designs.
Great effort was made to meet the summit's technology requirements while making equipment integration as elegant and unobtrusive as possible. "Technology serves you best when it's invisible," Baker says. Video technology for the translators -- who need to see the speakers' faces -- was an important issue. A raised center tray hides video cameras, which allow translators to see the speakers' faces.
THE INDIVIDUAL PARTS
Baker and Dohn designed the large table around a pentagonal center with five detachable side tables. The wood is so dense that the center table (with pedestal) weighs more than 1,000 pounds. Special dollies were built to transport the pieces.
A round table gives the delegates positions of equality. There are 10 seats -- eight member countries and two European Union posts. Starting with the host country, the United States, the seating order is: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom and, finally, the European Union. The delegates are seated alphabetically to the host's right.
THE DELEGATES' SEATS
Each delegate country and the European Union are represented by inlaid wooden flags at their seats.
The inlays were created in Williamsport, Md., and are about a 20th of an inch thick.
THE 'SHERPA' TABLES
Ten simply designed tables built by Dohn will serve the delegates' assistants -- called "sherpas." The sherpas, who are constantly by the leaders' sides, are often high-ranking officials with strong economic and foreign affairs knowledge.
Reclaimed heart pine, the heartwood of old-growth Southern pine, was used to build the table.
Heart pine is durable and dense, which protects against scratches and dents. It fades to warm copper and gold colors. The wood often is used for flooring. The wood came from beams salvaged from an abandoned South Carolina textile mill and had been part of Sea Island Co. Chairman Bill Jones III's "accumulation" of heart pine.
Dohn hand-selected the wood for the table from among the 25-foot beams, which were then cut into footwide planks at a sawmill.
DOHN AND CLASSIC CRAFTSMANSHIP
Taking time from his medical practice and working without compensation, Dohn needed about four months to construct the tables. He comes from a long line of professional woodworkers. Dohn favors high-grade hand-tools -- either those built in the late 1800s and early 1900s or modern designs by specialized craftsmen.