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A modern heirloom.

As a custodian of culture, the designer’s mandate requires focused attention towards creating work that stands the test of time by endearing users to the work itself. Minding this mission, the core drivers of the furniture design process for the Wedged Walnut Cabinet include the call to “bring back the heirloom,” the celebration of quality materials that delight both the eye and the hand, and the respect of the hardwood.

The dramatic grain of the solid walnut sourced for this piece builds visual complexity, especially as multiple boards are joined together. This complexity, juxtaposed with the clean lines and orthogonal organization of the piece, helps to form the visual balance of the Wedged Walnut Cabinet.

Wedged Walnut Cabinet - Furniture Design: A Modern Heirloom
Clean Lines and Wood Grain

The dramatic grain of the joined walnut boards is hand-curated to form a modern, graphic aesthetic.

Wedged Walnut Cabinet - Furniture Design: Full Piece View
A Hint of Color

The pale blue paint of the MDF core was chosen for its delicate hue that complemented the walnut in both warmth and value.

A finish friendly to the planet and the user.

All walnut surfaces are rubbed with a natural wood finish comprised of linseed oil, tung oil, beeswax, pine resin, and orange oil. Domestically produced and without any petroleum products or heavy metal dryers, the finish leaves the piece and the surrounding area smelling of citrus after each application, rather than of harsh chemicals. This is of particular importance for an oil-finished piece of furniture, as it will require reconditioning over time.

Wedged Walnut Cabinet - Furniture Design: Detail at Top Bookmatch
Detail at Top Bookmatch

The bookmatching of the top piece creates a mirrored pattern with the grain of the wood.

A hint of color.

The MDF core is painted pale blue to minimize the visual dominance of the core within the overall composition, while maintaining adequate contrast with the naturally finished walnut.

Wedged Walnut Cabinet - Furniture Design: Rare Joint at the Corners of the Keystone Box
When You Can’t Find a Precedent, Make One

Without an example of a wood joint that met all the needs of the piece, a joint had to be designed precisely for it in order to achieve proper grain orientation, both functionally and aesthetically.

A rare wood joint for a specific need.

One of the smallest and most difficult details to design and construct was at the intersection of the vertical grain side and back panels of the keystone box in a tight, notched corner. Creating and building this joint, which maintains grain orientation integrity with the other discrete walnut elements of the piece, while avoiding trapping the wood, was crucial to the success of the project.

Wedged Walnut Cabinet - Furniture Design: Dry-Fit Like a Glove
Dry-Fit Like a Glove

Dry-fitting the cabinet into the structural core required that there be zero construction tolerance: each piece had to be measured, constructed, and finished with complete precision.

Dry-Fit Like a Glove

Dry-fitting the cabinet into the structural core required that there be zero construction tolerance: each piece had to be measured, constructed, and finished with complete precision.

Wedged Walnut Cabinet - Furniture Design: Hardware as a Design Element
Hardware as a Design Element

Brushed steel rods are threaded just enough to peek through a coordinating hex nut and washer.

Hardware as a Design Element

Brushed steel rods are threaded just enough to peek through a coordinating hex nut and washer.

Wedged Walnut Cabinet - Furniture Design: The Keystone Box, Three-Quarter Back View
The Keystone Box, Three-Quarter Back View

The keystone box wedges through the MDF core, linking the elements together. The top and bottom of the keystone are constructed from a single, resawn, bookmatched walnut board, a move complicated by the narrow thickness of the material.

The Keystone Box, Three-Quarter Back View

The keystone box wedges through the MDF core, linking the elements together. The top and bottom of the keystone are constructed from a single, resawn, bookmatched walnut board, a move complicated by the narrow thickness of the material.

Wedged Walnut Cabinet - Furniture Design: Scale Figure Walking By the Cabinet
Flexible Function

The cabinet sits at hip-height, perfect as a surface to drop off your keys, or to serve a plate of appetizers.

Flexible Function

The cabinet sits at hip-height, perfect as a surface to drop off your keys, or to serve a plate of appetizers.

Dry-fit, like a glove.

Since the horizontal members of the base cabinet wedge into the MDF core and sit directly on it, paint and wood finish had to be applied with precision prior to assembly, or the elements of the piece would fail to fit together as a whole.

Wedged Walnut Cabinet - Furniture Design: Detail at Front Left Corner
Detail at Front Left Corner

A brushed steel rod supports the keystone box over the cabinet below.

Detail at Front Left Corner

A brushed steel rod supports the keystone box over the cabinet below.

Wedged Walnut Cabinet - Furniture Design: Hardware Detail at Base Connection
Hardware Detail at Base Connection

Under the floating base, the brushed steel rods screw into an extended threaded footing.

Hardware Detail at Base Connection

Under the floating base, the brushed steel rods screw into an extended threaded footing.

Wedged Walnut Cabinet - Furniture Design: Detail at Base of MDF Core
Detail at Base of MDF Core

The MDF core appears to float above the floor.

Detail at Base of MDF Core

The MDF core appears to float above the floor.

Hardware as a design element.

Other than six hidden screws securing the horizontal and vertical wings of the core, all of the hardware is exposed and aesthetically and structurally relevant to the design.

Wedged Walnut Cabinet - Furniture Design: Detail at Back Corner
Detail at Back Corner

A brushed steel rod supports the keystone box over the cabinet below.

Designing for a 360° experience.

The Wedged Walnut Cabinet is designed to be viewed from any side, with no one side having lesser aesthetic value. Thus, it is not limited to a position against a wall, but instead is best admired in the center of a room.

Still hungry for more about this project?

Go deep, and read more about it in our blog.

Wedged Walnut Cabinet, Heirloom Furniture Build: Constructing the Keystone Box, View 1 - Cropped for Featured Image - Design Blog

Wedged Walnut Cabinet: The Build

A peek behind-the-scenes into the wood shop for the heirloom furniture build process of the Wedged Walnut Cabinet, a one-off piece of designer furniture.

Wedged Walnut, Furniture Design Process: Scheme One, Image B - Cropped for Featured Image - Design Blog

Wedged Walnut Cabinet: Design Process

Peek into the furniture design process for the Wedged Walnut Cabinet, a one-off piece of hand-built furniture designed to become a modern heirloom.

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