Belly Up to Ali Sandifer’s MAG Coffee Table


Abir Ali and Andre Sandifer. Photo: Brian Kelly

You’ve seen drop-leaf tables, but have you ever seen a drop-belly table?

As designed and built by Detroit-based Ali Sandifer Studio, the MAG coffee table beautifully fulfills one of the primary functions of its genre: to hold magazines.

But instead of spreading them across the tabletop, MAG owners can slip their magazines into the table’s slotted belly, leaving the bi-level surface free for coffee or cocktails. Hand-built of domestic hardwood—white oak, ash, walnut or maple—the MAG retails for about $2,400.

“For us, it was a challenge and an opportunity to rethink a familiar piece,” said Abir Ali, designer of the table along with its builder (and her husband), Andre Sandifer. “We always start with function, and how we can address it through form.”

“All our design starts with a conversation.”
Abir Ali


Original design sketches for the MAG coffee table. Photo courtesy of Ali Sandifer Studio

 “With a coffee table, it’s a surface. Generally, you’re going to pile on some magazines and books, and you’re going to entertain. So how could we express that sculpturally– but simply and fluidly?”

After form comes fabrication, an old-school process that can involve dozens of sketches and several built prototypes.

“We’re not dealing with a computer model; we’re not on Rhino [a design program]. That’s not part of our design process,” Ali said. “We really like to do it in the shop from the ground up. So we become really intimate with the feasibility of how to construct it. We want to express as much as possible the capability of the wood.”

Ali Sandifer Studio
7600 Chrysler Dr., Unit 232
Detroit, MI 48211