Photos by Robert Lowell
We first discovered Akke Functional Art at the ICFF this year—how could we pass on a steampunk ping-pong table?—and designer Axel Yberg has all but outdone himself with his latest project. The "All In" poker table refers both to the game itself and Yberg's recognition that building the Akke brand "has been a team effort and everyone involved has given it their all." "On a personal level, it symbolizes the fact that when I commit to something, I give it everything I've got; mentally, physically, and emotionally. When I'm excited about an idea, the first thing I say is, 'I'm all in!'"
Over 600 man-hours of labor went into the arboreal tabletop, which features fifteen species of exotic wood: Madagascar Ebony, Rosewood, Purple Heart, Zebra Wood, Wormy Maple, English Brown Oak, Black Locust, Claro Walnut, Quilted Maple, Sycamore, Cherry, Catalpa, Black Walnut, Quarter-Sawn White Oak, and live-edge Ash. And while the ligneous lines that comprise the striking web pattern of the surface are purely aesthetic, the rest of the table is chock full of symbolism:
The vectors that bisect each angle on the perimeter of the table are made from Madagascar Ebony and Rosewood. Their colors, black and red, represent the suits in a deck of cards. This idea is carried into the turnbuckle drink holders, which are designed as a quadrant of Black Walnut and Cherry. The organic nature of the live-edge Ash on the perimeter of the table symbolizes the fact that the game of poker requires complex thinking, as opposed to a systematic game like Black Jack. To be a successful poker player, you must have plenty of skill, nerves of steel, and a good amount of luck. The steel horseshoes that surround the WPT logos symbolize that combination.
The center of the table features a five diamond pattern—"a nod to the legendary Doyle Brunson and the [World Poker Tour] Doyle Brunson Five Diamond World Poker Classic"—that is backlit by Edison reproduction bulbs, set in Akke's signature pipe fittings, while the gold-painted base is an ostentatious allusion to the "bling associated with Las Vegas."
The final product comes in at 81” × 52” × 31.5” and, by Yberg's best guess, roughly 300 lbs—hit the jump to see the making-of video...
Video editing by Tane Digital Video
Yberg notes that he came up with the design for the table, but his friend Matt Gai—who funded the table, which will be awarded to the WPT Player of the Year—shared his poker expertise:
Matt advised me on the things related to gameplay; the space that each player requires, the maximum width the table could be (to allow the dealer to grab the chips), the depth and diameter of the drink holders, the height of the table.