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Ian Devenney‘s Decomposition coffee tableSusana Reisman

After Ian Devenney graduated from Toronto's York University a few years ago with a master's of environmental design, having studied theoretical, abstract things such as the philosophy of technology, he realized – as many grad students do – that a career in academia was not for him.

As an antidote, he got a job doing something as unabstract and real-world as possible: He worked as a carpenter, framing walls and installing kitchens. But instead of being a diversion, the woodworking experience also gave him a skill set to express some of his ivory-tower ideas.

His Decomposition coffee table, for example, references his thesis work on digital imagery and photographic manipulation. Plus, it just looks quite uncanny – a little bit Minecraft or like something from The Matrix, with blocks of wood lofting out of the air and landing on solid ground. From $4,800, through foxwedge.com.