Monday, 20 August 2012

the writing desk

Finally another blog post I hear you cry, I know it’s very long overdue again but I have been very busy making some of my designs to show in another local shop. The Living rooms is a fair-trade sustainably sourced furniture shop that stock a large range of furniture from outdoor to dining ranges, and they approached me to see if I was interested in showing my designs in their vast shop, I jumped at this chance and so if your ever in Norfolk you need to pop down and have a look, my work will also be featured on their website too. So it’s really good news for me, meaning my work is being showed in more shops now and not just online, so things a are looking up in terms of getting my designs out there.

Now back to the point of this post, to detail the design of my most recent design I did for a client in Yorkshire, a writing desk. The client approached me after seeing my designs for the ‘cant’ side table and console table and asked if I could come up with a similar design for a desk. Obviously I jumped at the chance as it was my first commission and I really needed to start making bigger items of furniture too.  So i sat down with them and sketched out a few ideas and found out exactly what they wanted from the desk. This took a few hours as I had to factor in the restraints of space I was working with and what they were hoping for, so a big compromise all round. Once they were happy with the initial idea I made a quick mock up to make sure I had the ergonomics spot on and the overall form was to their liking. Unfortunately I don’t have any photos of the mock up but it was very basic and proved a point. Thus making the next stage much easier in working out the final dimensions and how the design was going to work.

As the ‘cant’ design series relied on the cantilever principle I could not adopt this technique to the desk, because it would require an extremely heavy and robust frame to support the cantilever and the frame work its self would have to be very thick to take the weight that the desk would have to support, so I came up with an aesthetic  idea of the having the desk top resting on the framework but still fixed inside the frame at one end like the side table and console table this desk takes it inspiration from. So then ensued a lot of CAD work to figure out how to make this resting idea work and work out the final details.

The client chose the wood (sapele) which pleased me as it’s a wood I like to work with and have a lot of experience with so was confident in working with it to produce a bigger design to what I am used too.  And the client was also happy to use 10mm thick acrylic as the desk top (the same combination used on the console table) which not only suited the overall look (an abstract minimal form) but would add a significant amount of structural support to the overall design.  As the frame work I was proposing was unproven and I needed to make sure the design was rigid enough to be used every day and support a fair amount of weight (books, laptop, printer) etc. So more CAD work was needed to assess the need for a central support which would run along the bottom, this not only unhindered the overall look but provided vital rigidity.

Once all the design and CAD work had been done it was time to start making. I acquired the sapele wood from my local wood yard and ordered the black acrylic from a local company. As this was the biggest project I had done I felt a bit daunted by the overall project in hand but I learnt so much from the whole process. Making the framework was quite simple and just needed an extra pair of hands when it came to gluing. The difficult part came when I had to marry the acrylic to the frame work. It required some tricky routing and drilling and because the wood is such a strong contrasting material against the acrylic I had to design in some features to allow the frame to move and shrink. But after a lot of head scratching and huffing and puffing the basic desk was complete and all that was left was to conceal the fixing bolts (by veneering the top brace at the back where the acrylic sits inside) and then finish the bare wood with Danish oil. This beautifully darkened the sapele to add depth and worked amazingly with the gloss black acrylic.

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