According to Ballard's description, the side table is "inspired by actual spools used by French rope makers to display and sell their natural fiber manila rope." It also has storage; lift the top and you can place things inside.
Even though I like the idea of repurposed furniture, I can't say I like this piece. First of all, it's not an actual spool. It's "inspired by" a spool. They made it on purpose, from scratch, to look like a spool, even though it never ever functioned AS one. It's a wannabe spool. That kind of thing reeks of pretention to me -- someone's going to spend almost $200 on a side table that attempts to give the air of the industrial and the working class. It's disingenuous.
Also, it's kinda ugly.