Ruhlmann-style Poker Table

Architect, master craftsman and client design the ultimate gaming table.
By Frank Klausz
Pages: 72-78

From the October 2007 issue #164
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Émile-Jacques Ruhlmann was one of the finest designers of the Art Deco period. In the 1920s, he designed and produced many memorable pieces of furniture as well as other items for the interiors of the wealthy. Many of his pieces combine dark wood, such as walnut, with metal. He is best known for inlaid cabinets and most of his designs incorporate elegant and subtle curves.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art had an exhibition of Ruhlmann’s work in the summer of 2004. I went to the show to see this magnificent work, and shortly afterward I received a call from architect Donato Maselli, whom I often work with.

Donato asked to come by my shop with a client who was looking to have a poker table made in the Ruhlmann style. I have a Ruhlmann-style barstool in my showroom that has a steel ring piercing the legs. We all liked that detail, and wanted to incorporate it in the poker table. On the original Ruhlmann stool, the ring is attached to the legs with flanges. The pierced legs look cleaner than the original.

This made the table more difficult to build, but for cabinetmakers like us, the more complicated the idea, the more we like it. We get paid for doing the difficulties; that is our specialty. The three of us worked out the details, then the architect made some sketches and returned with finished drawings. After a few rounds of this, we settled on the final design. The table is 48″ in diameter with a leather top surrounded by a 2-3/4″ band of walnut.

From the October 2007 issue #164
Buy this issue now