Sticks & Secrets: ‘Unhidden’ Wood Desk, Chair & Shelf Set


Peal back the proverbial bark that wraps these twigs and you will find layer after layer of thoughtful and intentional craft. Underlying each of the objects in this series is a set of furniture design ideas that span in scope, addressing every aspect from the general form and function to the specific material and detail choices.

Combined, Leon Li and Ryan Ran developed this desk, chair and shelving unit set under the title ‘Unhidden’ and with an idea about revealing the secret and subconscious ways we use (and wish we used) everyday furnishings.

The seat has an extra back for hanging our coat or other outer clothes when we sit down, reflecting what we already do with chairs but rarely design around.

The desk an additional subsurface for storing objects that would ordinarily clutter the top, again in response to the dual purpose of a home or office desk top as both a working and storage surface.

The storage piece flips to hide or reveal more personal positions, with shelves on one side and a closed cabinet on the other, all perched on a single pivoting support post – intentionally precarious in order to keep prying hands from accidentally revealing the secrets (for who would risk tipping over such a delicate designer object?).

As with the individual design choices for the specific furniture pieces, there is a subtle but significant series of ‘Unhidden’ values that led the designers to select the wood used throughout – a type of wood, in fact, that is normally used for paper (and the branches of which are often burned as useless). Traditionally, the Qintan tree is looked upon as an ugly source material for serious wooden craft objects since it is stained outside and in by a naturally-occurring mildew. This furniture set celebrates the variegation in tone rather than hiding it, enhancing its visibility by contrasting it with a lighter and more consistent wood for the flat-spanning surfaces.

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