For more than 40 years, American furniture maker Dakota Jackson has been dedicated to creating furnishings that are unlike anything else in the world. Perhaps it’s his background as a magician
and pianist that influences his creations, which are noted for a signature
restraint and refinement and seem almost effortless in their construction. From
his iconic Library Chair to the pianos he has designed for Steinway & Sons,
Jackson’s work stands out for its flawless design and craftsmanship. Here, we take a close-up look at the making of two of his signature pieces, the Washington Hall Executive Desk and the J-1 Cabriolet Executive Writing Table, to
see the inner workings of this luxury furniture studio and how his notable line of desks and writing tables is created.
Jackson's Washington Hall Executive Desk, pictured above in New England Home, features a sophisticated but simple geometric composition with two wedge-shaped side panels and a bow front top. The desk's gentle curves balance the weight of its construction and highlight the expert craftsmanship of the piece.
On average, five craftsman are involved in the construction of a Dakota Jackson desk or writing table. The number of craftsmen required is based on the various specialized steps involved—one craftsman cuts the frame, another does the
finishing, another applies the veneer and so on, depending on the complexity of
the piece. Here, two cabinet makers discuss plan drawings for a desk.
Each piece of wood used in the desk is carefully shaped with a handheld router.
The desk's distinguished bow shape is formed by gluing
a piece of molded Italian poplar to the gently curving top section. Steel clamps and a
wooden forming jig hold everything in place until dry.
Once dry, the herringbone-patterned veneer is carefully glued in place and then lightly sanded.
The back of the Washington Hall Executive Desk features a modesty panel. The panel serves a privacy function but also has an aesthetic purpose to visually create a more stately piece than a writing table.
Detailed production drawings of each piece are only possible after a thorough consideration of form and proportion. Scale models are often
used to refine the design and help in the drawing process, as seen here for the J-1 Cabriolet Executive Writing Table.
The design of the J-1 Cabriolet Writing Table requires the horizontal planes of the drawer assembly to extend through the
compound curve of the base.
A mirror polish requires multiple coats of finish and buffing.
A completed J-1 Writing Table in a polished polyester resin finish shines on the factory floor.
Other notable desk designs from Jackson include the Executive Suite Chairman's Desk, which is a powerful piece that mixes perfectly polished Macassar ebony with stainless steel accents. Crafted in a modular design that allows for various configurations, the Chairman's desk is as functional and flexible as it is stylish.
Another classic example of Jackson's signature desks and writing tables is the Partners Desk where substantial wood drawers are balanced with an arched desktop and stainless steel legs. Sturdy without feeling heavy, the steel lends a modern touch to the desk's traditional design and construction.
As seen in the Partners Desk and every other piece created by Jackson and his team, the upmost care is placed in the construction and selection of materials to create products that will stand the test of time both in design and use.