Beautiful and functional furniture doesn't always come cheap or easy, and if you're only just starting to build your home you're often forced to sacrifice either one or the other. Flatpack furniture has saved our lives, but as the way we live and work continues to evolve it's essential for pre-fabricated furniture to echo our needs and desires. When it comes to home offices, that includes saving the hours of grief and frustration that come with furniture assembly.
More and more creative professionals work remotely. More of them can't afford large living spaces. All of them want to fill their homes with furniture that reflects their lifestyle and sensibilities. These are increasingly defined by flexibility, sustainability, and great style. Opendesk – an online platform that champions local making – has just introduced two new products designed to respond to this exact checklist. In general the company works to change the way products are designed and made by connecting customers with independent workshops around the world. Their network of independent makers produce items on demand for customers in their neighbourhood. In short – they've abandoned the traditional manufacturing model of making where cheapest land and labour, and shipping to the point of sale, instead making furniture when and where it's needed.
Cover image: Opendesk's Bundle Desk (designed by Thor her Kulve)
Opendesk's Bundle Desk (designed by Thor ter Kulve) and Linnea Bookshelf (designed by Pia Narula and Sam Devenport), photo by Peter Gunzel
Their service combines the convenience of flatpack furniture with the sustainability of locally making. Ease of assembly has always been one of their central focuses – bolstering their ethos that design should work in tandem with its users' lifestyle. The Bundle Desk and Linnea Bookshelf have taken this to a new level, doing away with the traditional assembly-kit of nuts, screws, and bolts once and for all.
The Bundle Desk – Thor ter Kulve
Thor is a Dutch product designer who lives on a narrow boat on Regent's Canal in London. His design ethos works to "transform civic objects into tools of unexpected usefulness". The way he lives has been completely essential to the development of the Bundle Desk's design. "I take inspiration from the way I live," Thor said, "it allows me to think about my needs and how the objects I produce and consume impact the world around me". The world around him is London – a place where the cost of living is high and the cost of missing out on the kind of life you want is even higher.
Thor's desk is a new take on the traditional trestle table – consisting of two or three supports over which a board or tabletop is placed. He's capitalised on the way this piece of furniture is incredibly simple to take apart, store away and reassemble. Thor's trestle has been developed with Japanese joinery techniques in mind. The desk consists of five pieces held together by slots and compression fittings. Multiple Bundle Desks can also be positioned side-by-side or back-to-back in any formation to create larger work areas.
Opendesk's Bundle Desk (designed by Thor ter Kulve) joint detail, photo by Peter Gunzel
"We will always need a desk - a surface on which we work. The Bundle Desk allows you to build a desk anywhere, everywhere," Thor said, describing his desire to create a desk that accommodates a variety of work environments. "It brings the level of flexibility needed when space is at a premium and work takes place at home".
The Linnea Bookshelf – Pia Narula and Sam Devenport
Across the Atlantic in Chicago, Pia Narula and Sam Devenport have created a bookshelf that reflects their creative goal to "make furniture that is carefully considered". In their work they prioritise the creation of strong, functional and visually simple designs that sell for a price that reflects the true cost of quality materials and craftsmanship. "We wanted to design a shelving unit with an emphasis on strength and durability, but that could also be easily assembled and disassembled," the designers said. "We thought this would make it more accessible. We wanted to do it without nuts or bolts or any other hardware".
The result is a lightweight, elegant shelving system which takes inspiration from traditional joinery. Linnea is large with ample storage room and overhanging edges which create even more display opportunities. But it's also lightweight, made from 12mm thick high-quality Birch Plywood – so it's super easy to move and build.
Open desk's Linnea Bookshelf (designed by Pia Narula and Sam Devenport)
We really like the direction these designers are headed – towards furniture that makes sense in real homes and real lives.
For more information on Opendesk and their products visit their website here.