Shrub by Zhili Liu


Shanghai designer Zhili Liu has designed a collection of steel and aluminium tables with branched legs.

Called Shrub, the collection includes a two-metre dining table, smaller round table and side table.

The six milimetre-thick aluminium tops are screwed to the branching steel legs, and the screw heads form decorative elements in the tables' surfaces.

More about Zhili Liu on Dezeen: Bird lighting.

Here's a little text from the designer:


Shrub tables (design & prototyping 2009)

Chinese manufacturing is usually famous for large quantity, low quality and very limited new material and technology. So for Chinese designers, creating low quantity products with high quality in both design and manufacturing has always been a tougher task than it is in most other places. I have been trying to create high specification products with typical Chinese industrial materials and basic techniques, through unusual design and engineering, and these tables are the first prototypes in this direction - which I believe could be another route for "Chinese design" aside from reinterpreting the traditional decorative elements.

The exposed sunken screws bolt together the table top with all the "branches" of table legs, forming dozens of stable triangles, which make the table top part of the frame to share the stress in the legs, thus material needed to make a table is minimized. the 2-metre dining table has a top with 6mm even thickness, from edge to centre, without any space technology or exotic material, just thin steel rods, aluminium sheet and a roadside workshop, and the randomly spread fastening screws also become the decorative elements here.

Cut, bent, welded and powder coated.

Posted on Sunday November 15th 2009 at 12:50 am by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • nintendo

    The idea is an elegant one, contrasting the intricacies of thin tweed branches with a simple table top. However, I think the execution could have been better without the multitude of tiny screws on the table top. These screws will pose a functional problem with users who require a flat surface for writing or drawing.

  • wow … slim and clean design – looks really great – love it!

  • Tao

    This really fits his “bird lighting”…I would like to have a set of this with a bird lighting above.

  • Melody

    I like the screw-heads.

  • tanya telford – T

    i haven’t seen any products like this (re: information above)from any Chinese designers before, i think these tables look good and i think the design integrity shows through, (really liked the lights as well),

  • Beautiful function, form, and economics.

  • 鏡子


  • i love it!

  • No me gusta este diseño, lo veo de aspecto Pobre

  • trimtab21

    How easy we forget the mistakes of the past – just like the beautiful and innovative “paperclip” table did in the 1960’s, this design will cause head entrapment for small children and just like then, their unfortunate deaths and their parents eternal grief. PLEASE stop making this!!!!

  • ARS

    This slim design is nice but it reminds the really much better table Synapsis by Massaud. The idea of the branches is interesting but a bit basic, the execution seems rough, specially the screws on the table top, no so good for a work table.

  • cpcp

    dining table….great…. until you sit down at it! where do your legs go!?!?

    once again – pretty pics with no people in them….

  • simple but very creative idea!

  • lior

    I love it! Specially the small table with the concrete leg, very elegant indeed.
    I agree that the screws could be done more elegant but solved very nicely by adding the colors.
    I would definably buy it and with regards to trimtab2, I can’t see how it would cause death to a child than any other ordinary table???

  • These are incredible, they seem to be light enough to float away, and the screw detail on the surface of the table just elevates the design to something that would cause the whole table to start talking about its design.

  • amsam

    is trimtab21 joking?

  • trimtab21

    no joke. it happens so fast – the toddler falls, his neck gets wedged into the vee formed by the legs rods – gravity does the rest and he gets hung to death or a broken neck.
    Lior – try an experiment using a doll and you will see.

  • Sakura

    @ trimtab21

    maybe a “parental advisory” label would save this brilliant design?

  • yrag

    Extremely graceful, elegant and beautiful.

    I must however agree with nintendo “These screws will pose a functional problem with users who require a flat surface for writing or drawing.”

    For me those same screws also disturb the aesthetics of an otherwise sublime design.

  • Mac

    Beautiful idea. A couple of points: 1) These tables will exhibit too much racking. 2) The screws are not going to be screwed into steel rods that meet the tabletop at an angle. Perhaps they are connecting a plate that the rods are welded to? If so, what accounts for their pattern?

  • xixixixixix


  • I like how it is connected with wire legs. Nice detail. I like it.