Years ago when the pictures were small and my shutter speeds were slow in low light I saw a remarkable piece of transformer furniture in the Louvre in Paris. It was designed and built by Giovanni Socci et fils in 1810 and did amazing things, with the tabletops pulling apart to expose an easel, and a totally invisible chair three legged chair pulling out to just the right spot to work.
Now Rain Noe of Core77 shows the same table and you can see real detail in the desk in both its open and closed positions. He also found a gif of it in action:
Gif via Core77Core77 also points to the website for Clostermann Antiques, which gives more history about Socci and fils than we had in our previous post:
Francesco Socci is an active Florentine cabinetmaker from 1728 in the small town of Ponte a Ema – in the hills to the South of Florence. He had a son, Lorenzo, which resumed its activity during the rest of the 18th century. Finally, Luigi and Giovanni – son of the preceding, born in 1774 and 1775, resumed the workshop from 1807.
and how it worked:
The counterweights and gear mechanism, when pulling the Chair, by this single gesture opens the plateau – releasing a small grandstand forming reading Secretary topped with goatskin. The set has a masculine aesthetic, almost austere or even military, such as can be some productions for the Napoleonic campaigns.
The desk version I saw at the Louvre actually traveled a bit; it evidently showed up on the market in the USA in the seventies and was bequeathed to the Musee du Louvre by Audrey B. Love, a New York City art collector, who died at 100 in 2003.
It remains the most amazing transformer I have ever seen.