Devil Amongst the Tailors
by Aberrant Architecture

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Devil Amongst the Tailors by Aberrant Architecture

Milan 2012: in response to the growing number of freelancers looking for workspaces outside of their homes, London studio Aberrant Architecture have created pub tables that can be adapted into desks by day and games tables by night.

Devil Amongst the Tailors by Aberrant Architecture

The desks were created in collaboration with Benchmark and commissioned by Wallpaper* as part of their Handmade exhibition in Milan last week.

Devil Amongst the Tailors by Aberrant Architecture

In rest mode each table provides a simple dining surface, but in work mode this tabletop folds open to reveal a bureau-style desk concealed beneath.

Devil Amongst the Tailors by Aberrant Architecture

To transform the desk for play, a removable drawer can be placed on the surface and filled with skittles to recreate nineteenth century pub game Devil Amongst the Tailors.

Devil Amongst the Tailors by Aberrant Architecture

These skittle also open up to become pen-pots.

Devil Amongst the Tailors by Aberrant Architecture

The tables have been crafted both in cherry with a maple surface and in walnut with an ash surface.

Devil Amongst the Tailors by Aberrant Architecture

The Salone Internazionale del Mobile took place from 17 to 22 April. See all our stories about Milan 2012 here, or see more projects by Aberrant Architecture here.

Devil Amongst the Tailors by Aberrant Architecture

Here's some more information from the American Hardwood Export Council:


A Handmade Highlight – ‘Devil Amongst the Tailors’

The American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) was invited to collaborate with Wallpaper*, aberrant architecture and Benchmark, bringing together the very best of materials, innovative design and craftsmanship. American ash and walnut and American maple and cherry are the principal materials of two pub tables named 'Devil Amongst The Tailors' designed by aberrant architecture and made by Benchmark.

Devil Amongst the Tailors by Aberrant Architecture

AHEC has played an advisory role on timber suitability, aesthetics and sustainable design. There are over 20 commercial U.S. hardwoods species that offer a huge variety of colour, grain and character, and aberrant’s tables ‘Devil Amongst the Tailors’ showcase this palette of colours and textures. Black walnut and ash combines to suit a darker environment, such as a private members club or public houses, and a combination of cherry and maple allows the second table to happily work in brighter spaces such as hotel lobbies or boutique cafes. “We are really pleased to be taking part in Handmade again this year” says AHEC European Director David Venables. “The concept and design of ‘Devil Amongst the Tailors’ is excellent, the tables are beautifully made and demonstrate the versatility of U.S. hardwoods.”

Devil Amongst the Tailors by Aberrant Architecture

Aberrant has become known for insightful researched projects that challenge perception and introduce new and unexpected ways of experiencing the world. During their architecture residency at the Victoria and Albert museum they studied the original drawings of the now demolished 'Elephant & Castle' public house in Lambeth. The designs, by the architect Albert A. Webbe, reveal a mixed used building divided up into three main areas: a 'public' space for drinking; 'private' areas for the pub's regular patrons, who used the watering hole as an extension of their home and office, and a large space that was used for group meetings and community events.

Devil Amongst the Tailors by Aberrant Architecture

Combining historical precedent with research into how contemporary 'work-styles' are evolving, Wallpaper* magazine invited aberrant architecture to design a new pub table that in addition to supporting the typical pub activities of drinking and eating, is specially considered to provide the modern nomadic worker with enhanced productivity, a sense of belonging and opportunities to interact with their fellow workers.

Devil Amongst the Tailors by Aberrant Architecture

The table represents the growing demand for temporary office space outside of the home. For many, office blocks are a thing of the past and an increasing number of nomadic workers roam London in search of welcoming workspaces. Named 'Devil Amongst the Tailors', after a traditional table-top skittles pub game, the table boasts a luxurious surface in ash or maple for entertaining, a brass foot rest for putting your feet up and combines a series of specific functions. Lifting up the lid reveals a private work surface, boasting skittle shaped office organisers for storing pens & paperclips and a task light that fixes to the table’s numberplate. Want to stop for lunch, have a meeting with a client or simply go for a cigarette? Simply close and lock the lid. Work and its associated mess are banished, safely stored, out of site and out of mind. If it’s time to relax, place the removable drawer onto the table surface, arrange the skittle shaped office organisers &hook the brass ball and chain onto the light. An impromptu game of ’Devil amongst the Tailors’ can now be enjoyed. For Kevin Haley of aberrant architecture “This unique commission allowed us to further our research into contemporary lifestyles and flexible working conditions at the challenging scale of a table. Working closely with Wallpaper*, Benchmark and AHEC during both the design development & production stages produced a creative collaboration, which we believe resulted in a far richer process and an unexpected & exciting end product.”

Devil Amongst the Tailors by Aberrant Architecture

Using the very best of English craftsmanship and beautiful sustainable American hardwoods, the tables have been handmade by Benchmark using traditional cabinet making skills including dovetailing and mortice and tenon joints. Time and attention has been given to the sourcing of all materials which have been chosen for their origin and authenticity. The very best pieces of cherry, maple, walnut and ash were selected for their perfect grain and finish. The bespoke metalwork, made from silver patinated brass, including foot rails, handles, locks and brass drawer linings hand engraved to house the skittles has been sourced from Birmingham, home of traditional artisan metalworking skills. Sean Sutcliffe, Director of Benchmark says “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. We used to make so much of our furniture in cherry wood and over recent years it seems to have been less fashionable so I hope that we will now see the start of a return to this fabulous mid-coloured fruit wood. The tables were made by Sam Foster-Smith who is an outstanding craftsman of 35 years experience. He has handcut all the mortice tenon joints and dovetails and the end result are outstanding examples of craftsmanship.”

Devil Amongst the Tailors by Aberrant Architecture

Perhaps the most innovative and exciting aspect of this project is that with Benchmark’s help, AHEC has documented all elements of the manufacturing process and will be putting this together with life cycle data recently collected from the American hardwood industry to produce a full ‘cradle-to-grave’ life cycle impact report for the tables. Says David Venables, “This will be a first for our industry and we believe that this kind of transparent and scientifically based information is essential to enable manufacturers and designers to make an informed decision when it comes to the question of sustainable design.”

Devil Amongst the Tailors by Aberrant Architecture

Tony Chambers, Editor-in-Chief of Wallpaper*, says: “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.

  • Snow White

    Lovely piece of work, especially enjoy the corresponding artwork that creates a great narative…don't often see that.

  • an observation

    yes nice pieces……… however i feel that this is the type of work that furnituremakers/cabinet makers produce on a regular bases. i have seen many product made by lesser known 'traditional' makers which show equal or greater than sesitivity to material and versitility in function.
    why is it that this style of furniture only gets press when an archtects firm and wallpaper magazine are involved. Iv been to many design exhibitions where exceptional examples of craft skill (not just cutting nice joints, but selection and application of particular materials and techniques) have been over looked by the press and/or judges of these avents, over looked for not being 'Designy' enough…..