Thursday, September 15, 2011

Roll Top Desk: An Evolution

I took a class last fall titled Royal Furnishings of Versailles and to this date it has been my very favorite grad school course. My teacher was a French woman who had a very high position within Versailles so she had amazing information as well as photos you might not otherwise see. For example, a lot of furniture within Versailles has moving parts, meaning you turn a crank, and a mirror pops out of what looked like a flat table. My teacher forbade (!) us to use any of her images so the following image is from another source.

This is a desk Louis XV commissioned. Yes, the king who ushered in Rococo which is actually supposed to be called Rocaille. Anyway, back to the desk: this desk was thought to have been started by a craftsman named Oeben who received the commission in 1760. Oeben died in 1763 and his widow, in need of money, married another craftsman named Riesener. Riesener finished the desk and stamped it Riesener. It's technically Transition style, not Rocaille.

The reason I am putting this desk up is because back then the roll-top was a new idea and a way for the owner to keep his papers out on the desk but lock it up so it was still secure. Cool, right? When the roll-top was first invented the technology behind making it was new and revolutionary.

Fast forward to todayI came across this desk by Nika Zupanc and instantly thought of Oeben/Riesener.

Although the owner can't leave their papers sprawled across the desk top, you can still stuff (organized or not) all of your papers in the expanding file folder and then crank it down to be hidden within the top of the desk. Cool, right?

As they say, life always repeats itself. I guess the same can be said about design.


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