The Brief

All pieces in my furniture collection start life as a bespoke client commission. This Haymerle desk was no different and it was commissioned during lockdown as my client foresaw a change in how we might work from home in the future.

We discussed and set the brief together. The desk must have a clear demarcation for both a desktop computer and loose paper notes; be ergonomically ‘right’ for his existing desk chair and body shape; be playful, joyful and engaging but also calming and tactile; and finally it must use sustainable or easily recyclable materials.


The genesis for the project came from Robert MacFarlane’s Underland, a magical description of his journey on foot that considered burial, unburial and deep time. I became fascinated in underground strata and sediments, the layering of both geological and human activity.

I then came across Emily Ketteringham’s test tube sample collections of sand, gravel, ochres and ore and how they could describe a ‘Colour of Place’.

I designed the desk whilst on holiday in North Cornwall. One evening I rewatched the tragic 2004 film about the Boxing Day Tsunami which started from an undersea megathrust earthquake. The link to MacFarlane’s book and the time I was spending on the beach made me relook at the vast black slate cliffs and sandy beaches as sedimental evidence caused by billions of waves breaking.

Furthermore, there’s a shipwreck on Booby’s Bay in North Cornwall that only reveals itself occasionally at low tide. Last year she showed herself and the gnarled black steel against sand resonated as further evidence of the sea’s power.

Returning from holiday, I read an anthology of Bridget Riley’s quotes and writings. I became enamoured with her stripe paintings – perhaps the simplest motif within her oeuvre – both calculating in their sophistication and intuitive in their ‘rightness’ and balance.

This coincided with my interest in coloured valchromat – a non-toxic by-product of saw dust. Whilst I had already worked a way to oil the black valchromat colourway to give the most tactile of finishes, I wanted to see how a series of adhered coloured velchromat strips could take to a CNC machine and produce curved and wave forms which when sanded and oiled would give this particular tactility and subtle distortion of colour.

The final piece

The work from home desk design developed itself. The sedimentary quality of the sand combines evocatively with the power of sea waves, the ever-geological presence of cliff slate and the black steel wreckage. The resulting ‘tsunami waves’ demarcates the working zone of the desk leaving space for loose papers, a cup of tea and other nick-nacks at either end. The rhythm of the coloured velchromat strips nods to Riley’s paintings with their mathematical repetitions and mirroring affects whilst the colours allude to variations in the minute breakdown of sand particles caused by the eroding Cornish slate cliffs. And in some way I feel the black steel from the wreckage punctures this landscape, creating a wave that my desk freezes in time.

As ever I must credit Weber Industries as wonderful fabricators.

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