River tables are uniquely aesthetic, handcrafted furniture made from a combination of the most beautiful woods and clear or colored epoxy cast resins resulting in a unique design every time.
One of the 21st century’s best furniture ideas is the river table. These pieces make it seem like there’s a water trail coming through the surface, complete with beaches, erosion, and other fine details.
Furniture makers create these items by mixing resin and epoxy to create the visual appearance of the river coming through the table. They add two wooden sides to complete the product, delivering a unique look for any interior décor.
An updated version of the river table replaces the resin and epoxy for custom-shaped glass that sits on top of a mounted wooden frame. It creates the same strong outcome with fewer steps involved, thus reducing the overall cost.
You can find numerous artists and furniture companies making handmade river tables for sale.
Also, we made a list of other types of unique coffee table ideas which you might be interested in.
Although these items are a little more expensive than your traditional product, you’ll find that they contribute added value to your overall design.
Who Owns the Idea of the River Table?
Although there could be other creative artists who built a river table without thinking of it as such, the furniture industry has Greg Klassen to thank for this unique trend. His designs often sell for $15,000 or more from his northern Washington studio and shop, and he continues to look for new ways to innovate his product.
When he created the design, Klassen also filed for a trademark to use the name. After he started selling the tables, he found out that the government had approved his application. That resulted in a firestorm of negative feedback from an artistic community that was used to having collaboration and openness.
It also started an important question that remains unanswered: how could craftspeople protect their designs so that they can continue making a profit?
When Klassen encounters people today, he often hears how other people created river tables before he ever got started. He says that one person said that they saw an article in Sweden that described making a similar product over three decades ago, but no one has ever shown him a picture.
Whether Klassen invented the concept or not isn’t as debatable as the fact that he was the first person to make it a commercially viable product in 2011. It came three years after he launched a furniture business, and the effort was struggling until some viral attention occurred in 2014.
It didn’t take long for other woodworkers to start copying his designs. Klassen began to second-guess his social media posts that showed off his work. In 2017, a woodworking magazine showed everyone how to make the product without featuring the original innovator at all.
When you start searching for this product online today, you can find thousands of different results. Klassen remembered that a patent lawyer reached out to suggest legal protections, but he is now trying to control the marketing perspective.
What Are the Best River Tables to Buy Today?
To be clear, Klassen is the owner of the term “river table” from a marketing perspective. This post uses it as a descriptive term for how the following products look.
If you’re in the market for this furniture item, here are some of the best examples you might want to bring home today.
1. Lara Woods Epoxy River Table
The Walnut Dining Table is a piece of furniture that has a place for a group of people to gather around and enjoy a meal. The tabletop can also be used for reading newspapers or books. The table is made from walnut wood. The epoxy wood table is custom and handmade. All edges of the table are hand-sanded for a smooth surface. The raw walnut wood used in its natural form is a sturdy and durable type of wood that is perfect for a table. The legs also assist the tabletop for an even position. The tabletop has dark blue resin color that has a metallic sheen to it.
This river table uses more of the traditional approach that Klassen started in his Washington workshop. It uses poplar wood for the sides, steel legs for more support, and the classic blue resin to serve as the water. The store takes up to eight weeks to provide delivery, and no two items are exactly alike. Customers are using the furniture for everything from conference tables to a standout piece for their interior décor.
The next innovation for river tables involves islands and archipelagos. This handmade product uses olive wood, resin, and epoxy to create an outline of Cyprus, including the beautiful white-sand beaches you can find around the island. Different waves can be seen throughout the blue waters, and there are even some spaces with clarity to add more dimension to the item. Since it is handcrafted, you’ll find some natural variations, but it will still be a fantastic addition to any home.
This custom table is closer to an artistic piece than an actual river-style design, although you can find individualized options that follow the more traditional style. The shop uses a live-edge slab on many elements to create unique shapes and combinations. Some tables only have a small area where the resin is placed, while others look like a cliffside beach or a small pond. If you order this one, you’ll need to do some assembly once your new furniture arrives.
Most river tables take an artistic approach to creating the final look. Woodworkers often use the live edge, fill in the resin, or have glass custom-cut to fit between the two surfaces. This shop takes a different approach, cutting out the River Thames’ recognizable shape to be in the middle of the tabletop. You can select a coffee table or a dining-sized version with this option to have a stunning addition to your home.
This river table might be the most unique design of them all. Instead of using a cutout piece, an iridescent blue color comes with the natural wood grain to create an impressive visual aesthetic. They use glass legs for the design, making it appear as if the water tumbles off the edge to create a waterfall. You can also select more traditional designs in different resin colors for a unique experience. If you want to make a statement, these tables will deliver.
The original river table is still one of the best. You’ll find from his shop an innovative style that is starting to leave the furniture world. You’ll locate everything from wall art to his new stunning archipelago designs. What makes his islands different than others is the clarity of the wood underneath. It looks like the ridges you’d see under the water while walking away from the beach to deliver a stunning result.
Instead of using cedar, pine, or oak, this river coffee table uses maple to generate a unique design. You’ll notice less definition with the wood grain with this material, but it also creates more colors to enjoy. If you want something different, they also make options in cherry, walnut, and poplar. After placing your order, you can follow the creation steps online as it gets built so that you always know what to expect.
When people look at river tables today, they sometimes see a two-dimensional piece that doesn’t have much room to evolve. With this option, you get layered wood and glass that simulate the swirling bays and coves you can find along the ocean shores. Even if you look at it from the side, you can experience the design’s depth and craftsmanship. Each one is a unique sculpture, and the initial run was capped at 25 pieces.
Designed to be more of an accent piece, this unique river table is a 50-50 mix that uses the live edge on both sides. You’ll get a glossy surface to enjoy while having a personalized experience. It’s a one-of-a-kind piece with varnish plating and burl poplar that offers an incredible statement piece. It takes approximately four weeks to create the end result, although you may find it less usable than other designs because of how the resin gets applied.
A Final Thought About River Tables
Should an artist have the right to create a proprietary design? In most situations, the answer ought to be in the affirmative. With the river table concept, no one was making them in 2011 commercially.
It wasn’t until Klassen had his designs go viral that others started poaching the idea. Although everyone should have the right to create something unique, a direct copy is somewhat questionable.
If someone tried to copy a poem from Emily Dickinson directly, perhaps changing a couple of words, we’d call that plagiarism. When an artist does that to someone else, we call it commercialism.
The tale of the river table is that these issues should stop. If you have an idea that is unique and potentially profitable, the first step is to secure a patent. Not taking that action could see your idea explode without bringing you along for the ride.