As part of their Handmade exhibition in Milan in 2012, Wallpaper magazine commissioned us to design a new pub table that, as well as supporting typical pub activities like drinking and eating, was specially considered to provide the modern nomadic worker with enhanced productivity, a sense of belonging and opportunities to interact with their fellow workers. This was a great opportunity for us to extend our research into contemporary lifestyles and flexible working conditions and apply it to the challenging scale of a table. In collaboration with the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) and English joiners Benchmark, we created ‘Devil Amongst the Tailors’: an adaptable desk, table, and game all in one.
Historically, the pub wasn’t just somewhere you went for a drink, but also for meetings – and that idea of intensity of use was something we wanted to incorporate into our design. Named after a traditional table-top skittles pub game, the tables were crafted both in cherry with a maple surface, and in walnut with an ash surface, giving a hardy, luxurious feel. A brass foot rest beneath the table encourages users to put their feet up whether working, eating, or playing.
To give the table a practical working space, we designed a hidden compartment underneath the table top, part of which lifts to reveal a private work surface with a task light and skittle-shaped office organisers for storing stationery. When the time comes to put work on hold, this lid can simply be closed and locked to banish work and its associated mess away, safely stored, out of sight and out of mind. And at the end of the working day, the drawer can be removed and lifted onto the table surface, the skittle-shaped office organisers arranged into place and the brass ball and chain hooked onto the light to enjoy an impromptu game of Devil amongst the Tailors with friends, colleagues or fellow pub-goers.
For us, working closely with Wallpaper, Benchmark and AHEC during both the design development and production stages of this creative collaboration resulted in a far richer process, and an unexpected and exciting end product.
“Handmade is a testimony to great design, talent and ideas, and the determination to achieve the extraordinary. We are once again celebrating beautiful new friendships and beautiful new things. ‘Devil Amongst the Tailors’ is not only a cleverly researched and playful table, it is a demonstration of the very best teamwork, craftsmanship and sustainable design, and is a highlight of this year’s exhibition.”
Tony Chambers, Editor-in-Chief of Wallpaper
“The pub tables we made for the Handmade show curated by Wallpaper were a delight to make. We were able to select some really outstanding examples of all four species of hardwood we used. The walnut gave the piece an intense richness which worked very beautifully with the brass foot rail. The maple was beautifully consistent and almost paper-white. The cherry wood was a joy to use again… The tables were made by Sam Foster-Smith, an outstanding craftsman of 35 years’ experience. He handcut all the mortice tenon joints and dovetails and the end results are outstanding examples of craftsmanship.”
Sean Sutcliffe, Director of Benchmark
AHEC / Wallpaper* Magazine
Milan Furniture Fair