Gabriel Cruz and Stephen Rueff with the “MCAD Tree.”
Gabriel Cruz and Stephen Rueff with the “MCAD Tree.”

Nothing anchors a conference room like an amazing table.

So when MCAD began to formulate plans for E/STUDIO, a completely donor-funded space for the entrepreneurial studies program, Director of Entrepreneurial Studies Stephen Rueff worked with 3D faculty George Mahoney to identify candidates from among the college's furniture design alumni and they asked Gabriel Cruz ’12 to design and fabricate a unique, functional, eye-catching focal point for the space's conference room. Tall order, and he absolutely came through.

Now that the studio is completed, and the table installed, we caught up with Gabriel to learn more about his practice.

E/STUDIO Conference Table

Gabriel stands next to his completed table in the new E/STUDIO

On the table's concept . . .

“When designing a piece, I usually first like to see the space where it is going to live. But when this process started, E/STUDIO was still just a concept, so I had the freedom of coming up with a design that would suit MCAD as I experienced it. I wanted to make a piece of furniture that was visually engaging and non-traditional that would invite people to explore it, without compromising the functionality of a table.”

On the table's fabrication . . . 

“The materials are steel and white oak. My process began with many drawings and design edits until I was happy with the lines and the balance of it. I wanted to have the contrast of materials since it was already decided that the top would be made out of the MCAD tree, so steel was my choice, and it was also the material that I felt best suited the design for the base.” 

Gabriel Cruz Table Install

Gabriel installs the table in E/STUDIO

On the “MCAD Tree" . . .

“The ‘MCAD Tree’ was a beloved oak tree that fell on campus a few years ago. [MCAD President] Jay Coogan remembered the tree and how the college has held onto its trunk, and so Stephen thought it would make for a perfect tabletop material because it represents the reuse of available materials and is in line with the college's sustainability practices. However, it is not yet completely dry and is waiting to be milled, an issue we were not aware of at the beginning of the project. So we came up with a temporary tabletop solution while the tree trunk dries by sourcing some local white oak, similar to the MCAD tree, that will be repurposed for other table surfaces in the E/STUDIO once the MCAD tree is ready for use.” 

“The new E/STUDIO is an awesome, well-thought-out space that the students are going to enjoy! It has a great view, and I am happy to have a piece in it.”

On his time at MCAD . . . 

“My MCAD experience was great! I moved to the United States from Guatemala to pursue my passion for art. I was able to learn and acquire different skills that fed my curiosity that started with drawing and painting and transitioned into new interests when I was introduced to 3D. MCAD’s furniture design program taught me a variety of new skills and techniques that changed the way I approach my work and how I see things around me. The awesome 3D program faculty and the 3D Shop staff were large contributors to this.” 

Gabriel Cruz Table Install

Gabriel gives Stephen a preview of his table design

Up next on his plate . . .

“I have many different projects currently in process, all at different prototype stages, but the one that comes to mind is a carbon fiber coffee table that I have been playing with.”

On his favorite piece he has ever made . . .

“I really like all of the pieces that I have made. I put a lot of effort into my work, and I take pride in it. My favorite thing about making furniture is what I take away from each project and ending up with an awesome, functional piece of furniture that anyone can enjoy or interact with.” 

Gabriel and Stephen sit at the new E/STUDIO table

Gabriel and Stephen give the new E/STUDIO table a test sit