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Super ellipse

anonymous (not verified)
- 19 Oct 2001 -
18 posts / 0 new

I have a super ellipse table designed by Bruno Matthson and Piet Hein. Its made in teak and marked with the manufacturers name. I wonder when these table were manufactured in teak, cause no one I´ve talked to knows, and i wonder what it may be worth.



Heath (not verified)
- 20 Oct 2001

Is it Fritz Hansen? It was probabaly made sometime between '51 and '65, and possibly sold with Jacobsens "seven" chair as a suite. At the time timber resources in the Malaysian/Indonesian area were readily availabe to Northern Europe through Dutch interests in pre independence Indonesia.

Depending on the condition I'd say somewhere around US $900 - $ 1500

Heath (not verified)
- 20 Oct 2001

Or go to the Fritz Hansen site and ask them, I think I'm a bit out with the dates, more like '59 - '70.

anonymous (not verified)
- 30 Oct 2001

thats may be some goood stuff to find out this table's origin

George (not verified)
- 07 Apr 2002

Super Ellipse
A friend of mine who happens to be a retired architect is trying to find the actual dimensions of a super ellipse as designed by Piet Heins. Seeing your reply to a message I wonder if you have any idea how I/he might find this design. I would appreciate any help. Thanks, George

Koen (not verified)
- 09 Apr 2002

more super ellipses
According to the Bruno Matthson webpage the table was designed in 1964. Fritz Hansen puts the date in 1968. My own recollection is 1964 or 1965. Both Bruno Matthson and Fritz Hansen seem to have the Piet Hein/Bruno Matthson table in thier assortment. Matthson with more choices of legs and in more choices of wood. Fritz Hansen hproduces the table in maple...anyway all of this you can find by going to the designaddict links under "history" Bruno Matthson is wrongly identified as danish, but than again in Swedisch history it is not the first time that his birthplace Varnamo was considered Danish by the danes. As to the formula of a superellipse. I have forgotten the small and elegant formula, but they are easy to construct in the same way as gardeners draw regular ellipses: (with a loop of a constant length and two centers) for a superellipse you add two extra centers to form a square or a regular rectangle. Depending on the exess length of your loop you will have a superellipse that is closer to the square (short) or closer to a circle (long). Piet Hein's choice was exactly between the two extremes, if my memory serves me well. Good luck!!

Jacob (not verified)
- 05 Jul 2002

superellipse - details?
I have tried this - but what is the formula for placing the 4 centers? and the lenght of the string?

anonymous (not verified)
- 03 Oct 2002

super ellipse dining table
where in earth can I purchase the super ellipse dining table?

- 16 Apr 2006

Piet Hein / Bruno Matthson table
The "Superellipse" - classic Danish 1960's design. Beautiful oval dining table with chrome legs, designed by Piet Hein and Bruno Matthson. Birch veneer table top. Fritz Hansen manufactured matching birch armoir and buffet.
Are you interested in buying these pieces from me?

Potrero Hill

- 16 Apr 2006

Old tricks are the best
Koen, your "super-egg" explanation has earned my lasting admiration and gratitude. Back in the late 1950s or early 60s I read a story in the old Life magazine about this "innovative" shape and its popularity in the design of the day. I've had a secret crush on the shape ever since, but I'd forgotten the trick of drawing it with push pins and string. Thank you! This is as good as knowing how to tie a square knot or drive a standard-transmission car!

- 16 Apr 2006

Piet Hein's
super ellipse is not a cartesian ellipse but a specific Gabriel Lamé curve. Lamé was the first to identify the curve as part of a much larger equation. The danish designer/writer/illustrator etc. choose a Lamé curve where a=5/2 (when a=1 you have a square, when a=less than 1 a concave curve and when a= more than 1 a convexe curve. Anything less than 2 is called a hypo-ellipse. Piet Hein also known for short poems like:

Problems worthy
of attack
prove their worth
by hitting back


true ART is
to do things

used the super-ellipse form from small products like drink coolers, salt and pepper shakers,(Georg Jensen) to tables (Bruno Mattson and Fritz Hansen) and all the way to the shape of a square in central Stockholm called "Sergels torg"

- 27 Nov 2007

I am resurrecting this...
I am resurrecting this thread in the hope that someone can confirm that these tables were originally available in teak? Also, in response to the original post, the measurements for the table I have are 49-1/2" wide by 69-1/2" long by 28" tall.

- 27 Nov 2007

my god I feel old, I can bare...
my god I feel old, I can barely remember typing that. I've been diddling away on this forum for 6 years!

- 03 Jul 2010

Superellipse in teak
Yes, Bruno Mathsson made some in teak in the early '60s. Then he was enjoined from making any more because Piet Hein had worked out the mathematics and had an intellecutal property right to the design of the top, but not the legs. Then they collaborated and Fritz Hansen made all super ellipses susequently; but I do not know whether they were ever again made in teak. In any event, a teak superellipse dining tabe is very hard to find. Have fun!

- 03 Jul 2010

I am
also glad to see this thread -- for the first time, in my case (maybe I was asleep that week).

Because: I appreciate having the authoritative definition of the super-ellipse, and a hint of its construction. Personally, I am a purist; if the true ellipse was good enough for a Saarinen table (and others ? Anybody ?) it's good enough for me. Far better certainly than a wanna-be shape (there are bogus "ellipses" designed by or for carpenters who want to work only with arcs) -- but the super-ellipse is apparently a "true geometrical construction" by any definition, even though it can (unlike the classic ellipse) be produced in any number (literally) of variations. Not so the true ellipse: though there are an infinite number of dimensions (length x width) which can satisfy the construction, the formula produces only one shape for any and each of those dimension sets.

I understand the usefulness of a "fuller-figured" shape when it is being used as a table -- but most of my own table designs get considerably narrower at the ends, and I stick by my conviction that less width is required by the end seating positions than would be provided by the width dimension at the center of the table. And there is a benefit in that all diners can see each other. Besides, the tapering shape -- think of the classic Jaguar J sedan, or some of the newer Volvos, for instance -- is both sexy and aerodynamic -- and arguably easier to maneuver in tight places. This goes for today's dining spaces, as well !

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