Inside D.C. entertainment

D.C. artist designs Michael Jordan's dining room table

January 11, 2011 - 12:52 PM
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Courtesy of Michael Enn Sirvet.

Michael Enn Sirvet is an art guy, not a sports guy. But when he was offered the chance to design a table for Michael Jordan, he took the ball and ran with it. Oh wait, that's not a basketball metaphor, is it? He slam-dunked it. Yeah. Sports metaphors! They evade arts writers who, like Sirvet, may not be sports people. Anyway, despite Sirvet's proclivity towards museums, opera and symphony, he was approached by the basketball star's interior designer this summer to submit an idea for a table for the athlete's new home.

"He had bought this new condo in Charlotte, N.C., because he bought the team there," says Sirvet. "I guess everyone who follows sports knows that, but I'm not a sports guy."

Nevertheless, Sirvet, a local sculptor who works in metal, knew that he would be competing against several artists for the honor of crafting a dining room table for His Airness. He wanted something that would catch Jordan's eye, so he proposed a table drilled with one hole for every point Jordan scored in his basketball career, totaling 32,292 (The table actually has 32,296 holes if you include the holes drilled for each leveling foot, but Sirvet doesn't count those).

"[If I were him,] I'd like to see some manifestation of my life's work," says Sirvet. "It's gotta be cool to sit back and say, 'I can quantitatively look back at every point I've scored.'"

When Sirvet learned last summer that his design was accepted, he had a number of obstacles to overcome. The table would be his first machine-crafted work - he makes most of his art and design pieces by hand. He had to engineer the nine-foot by four-foot table to support weight despite having tens of thousands of holes drilled in it. And he had to get it to the house before Jordan moved in, on Dec. 3.

Michael Jordan Table

Sirvet designed the table through AutoCAD, which enabled a precise machine-programmed drilling of the thousands of holes through a sheet of aircraft-grade aluminum. Thanks to his background in mechanical engineering, he had the expertise to select the type of metal that would bend, drill and hold weight just the right way even at only ¼ of an inch thick, but to carry out his plans, he relied upon the expertise of workers at his metal shop, which also crafts equipment for the Air Force's mid-air refueling jets.

The work took longer than Sirvet thought it would, and the table didn't roll out of the shop until Dec. 2, the day before it was supposed to be in North Carolina. Because Jordan was worried about security in his new place, he wanted all of his furniture to be moved in before him, says Sirvet, and the table was a key piece in the house. The artist barely had any time to enjoy his own work before it was put in a crate and shipped away.

"I knew it would come out exactly per my design on paper, but I wasn't exactly sure how it would look in real life. When I got there, it was totally amazing," says Sirvet.

Jordan liked it too. According to his designer, "He flipped out. He was speechless," says Sirvet.

MJ liked it so much, he ended up purchasing an additional piece of Sirvet's work for his decor. Now that he knows the athlete admires his work, Sirvet says he'd love the chance to meet him one day.

"I'm going to send him a thank you piece of jewelry, because it's cool that he gave me the opportunity to make this thing. It cost a lot of money to make, so there's no way I could have the chance to make this thing unless somebody wanted it," says Sirvet. "I'm not a starstruck guy, so to meet him for just a minute, I wouldn't want to bother him with that. But I'd love to have lunch with him sometime … We both have an appreciation for what the other does."

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