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Things aren’t always as they seem, at least when it comes to Jonah Takagi’s furniture in the “New American Design” exhibit at Civilian Art Projects. Some of the RISD-trained designer’s pieces are deceptively plain—the Simple Machine(s) series of white ash tables appear unembellished to the point of boring from across the room, but get closer and you’ll notice the clever helical ridges at the top of each table’s legs, recalling screws driven into the table tops. The American Gothic table at first looks metallically industrial, but becomes less cold when you realize it’s actually constructed out of maple topped with a shiny coat of lacquer, and that the linear starburst connecting the table’s five legs is inspired by Tinker Toys. Takagi even turns the utilitarian wire into a thing of beauty, using cords in colors that complement their respective light fixtures. Techies may disagree, but if all wires were as pretty to look at as Takagi’s, I’m guessing there wouldn’t be so much demand to make all electronics wireless.

THE EXHIBITION IS ON VIEW 1 TO 6 P.M. WEDNESDAYS, THURSDAYS, AND SATURDAYS; 4 TO 8 P.M. FRIDAYS (CLOSED DEC. 24, 25, AND 31; AND JAN. 1) AT CIVILIAN ART PROJECTS, 1019 7TH ST. NW. FREE. (202) 607-3804.