Round Tulipwood Table by Barnby & Day for Alex de Rijke

September 17, 2014

A project initiated by the American Hardwood Export Council and Benchmark Furniture, The Wish List – What I have always wanted is… brings together a stellar list of architects and designers to create a compelling installation, The Wish List, which will be exhibited at the V&A during the 2014 London Design Festival.

As part of The Wish List, dRMM’s Alex de Rijke commissioned furniture makers Barnby & Day to create a round table using Tulipwood.











Project description

The Wish List has not only engaged the interest of 10 design legends, who have commissioned something personal. It is also giving an extraordinary opportunity to a group of emerging talented designers, who will not only develop the designs but actually come and make their pieces under the watchful eye and guidance of Benchmark’s master craftsmen, some of whom have 40 years’ experience to draw on!

Terence Conran, co-founder of Benchmark, instigated the project when he wrote to his friends and asked, “What have you always wanted in your home, but never been able to find?”

Alex de Rijke has commissioned Barnby & Day… dRMM’s Alex de Rijke has always wanted a beautiful large round laminated dining table. Alex is known for pioneering innovative uses of timber within the construction industry and designed the first ever use of hardwood CLT, ‘Endless Stair’ with for London Design Festival 2013. In an article entitled, ‘Timber is the new concrete’, he predicted that timber would be the dominant construction material of the 21st Century. Applying this thinking to furniture design, Barnby & Day will laminate American tulipwood and turn a hollow round table for Alex de Rijke who wants the table to look very solid but in fact be very light.

From Barnby & Day

10 young businesses (us being one) were paired with some amazing high profile architects, designers and artists. They were to act as our commissioners, with their brief being to commission us to work with them to design and make a piece for their home; “something they had always wanted but never been able to find.”

Collaborating with Sir Terence and Sean Sutcliffe from Benchmark were the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC). AHEC gave us a wide range of American hardwoods to work with. Ourselves and our commissioner Alex de Rijke (of dRMM Architects and dean of architecture at the RCA) chose tulip wood as it was a timber Alex had used before with huge success in his project the ‘Endless Stair’. The project was exhibited outside The Tate Modern before being shown in Milan, and pioneered the technique of cross laminating timber (CLT).

Alex wanted a large round sculptural dining table and liked the idea of trying to make it from CLT. Alex believes a round table is more dramatic – and around it, ‘the best decisions are made, work is done, and drinks are drunk’.

Round it was to be and from CLT! Laminating timber in this way gives it huge structural strength and almost eliminates movement which is a common problem in the wood industry. Alex didn’t want to use precious hardwoods, ‘tulip wood is very fast growing and America has an abundance of it’. We all agreed the colour variation and grain pattern was beautiful so the project took off!

Design: Barnby & Day

Photography by Petr Krejcí