Lowry London

Sapele Brut – Coffee Table + Chair

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‘Beton Brut’ = ‘Raw Concrete’ = the idea that materials are used in their unfinished or raw state. This concept was used heavily in the 1960s and 70s architecture that became known as Brutalism and, for this limited edition run, I used these concepts to guide the design.

Materials + Process

For this limited edition run of the Brut collection I used sapele hardwood. Part of the Mahogany family, sapele trees tower in the forest up to heights of 150ft. Rich and golden brown in colour the wood has densely packed closed-grain structure allowing finishes to bring out deep patterns within the wood.

All the components are made from 75mm square section and the dimensions are all exact multiple of that measurement.

To continue brutalist ideas, I took the areas of construction which would traditionally have been hidden in cabinetmaking and showcased them. For example, in Victorian England ‘endgrain’ (the part of the tree that would show if you cut horizontally through a tree) was considered vulgar in furniture and so all joinery on show would be designed and made in such a way as to hide the endgrain. In this piece, the contrasting colours that endgrain provides look beautiful and I chose to show it off on these pieces – you can see it in the below image as the dark squares that accentuate the chair’s components.

I poured the concrete in three stages to create an interesting tonal effect. I was interested in experimenting with concrete as a material that could create its own identity and uniqueness. This way, the process is controlled by me at the time each piece is poured and results in every piece being totally individual.

The Sapele is very thick stock at 3” x 3” dimensions. From the lumber yard, the wood begins as a very large rough sawn log that has been dried at the yard for a period of a few years. I then start mapping out the parts and cutting the log down to rough sized components to begin working the wood.

Firstly, the milling process begins with planing – I have to make one surface perfectly flat and then can begin to create an adjacent face perfectly square to the first. These sides are then used as reference sides for the other two sides to be planed parallel and the piece becomes perfectly square.

The joinery I used for these pieces are s