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Oak Furniture for the Dickson Poon Centre

Oak Furniture for the Dickson Poon Centre

Bespoke Furniture Winner 2014

Location: Dickson Poon Centre, Oxford
Client: St Hugh’s College, Oxford
Furniture designer: Makers’ Eye
Furniture makers: Simon Thomas Pirie, Matthew Burt, Waywood, Tim Hawkins
Wood Supplier: Tyler Hardwoods

This is a desk designed as one of a range of 5 pieces for the new build Dickson Poon China Studies Centre at St Hugh’s College Oxford. The pieces, comprising this desk design; another desk for academics, a folding dining/study table; individual library shelf units and a low table design are of an exceptionally high quality for an academic institution, with the brief specifying the use of solid European oak.

Given the very high quality specification but within tight budgetary constraints, the team set out to create a family of designs with a clear design signature which would complement the subtle Oriental influence of the architecture. They created designs that are light and elegant in appearance with an economy and purity of line that we associate with classic Chinese furniture, whilst being sturdy enough to withstand the wear and tear of student and work life. Given these parameters, it was essential that the chosen timber was of the highest quality: attractive in colour and grain; durable and appropriate to its designed environment.

Equally, and given the very short lead time, it was vital that the timber was exceptionally clean; of good and consistent colour; humidity regulated for stability in immediate use; quarter sawn wherever essential, again for stability reasons; square edged to reduce handling and machining time and that all these qualities available in a large quantity (740 ft3). They were fortunate in being able to rely on a trusted merchant for this, who managed at short notice to supply exactly to our specification.

Fortunately they were able to perform the initial machining in late December 2013 and allow most of the timber to settle over the Christmas period. Further machining then began, the timber having proved itself to be stable and of excellent quality, both structurally and in appearance.

The result is that 177 items were produced of superb quality solid oak furniture by the deadline of 03.03.14.

The oak selected was the perfect material for the work we produced. Its natural strength and excellent stability allowed the team to work within the design parameters they had set themselves, and its appearance in both colour and grain pattern has allowed them to create a range of designs that are brought to life by the chemistry of spare design and very attractive yet relatively easy to work timber.