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Publication Date: 2015-06-04

Why It's Worth It

Why It's Worth It: Expertly-Crafted Desk from Dakota Jackson

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.

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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.

Solid in its design and construction, detail is added to the Washington Hall Executive Writing Table with an inset leather top and herringbone patterned veneer on the front.

The Washington Hall Executive Desk is made within a 25,000 square foot domestic factory, which, above, sits quiet at the beginning of the workday.

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.

A cutting template is used to shape the signature arched front edge of the Washington Hall Executive Desk.

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.

The J-1 Cabriolet Executive Writing Table features two exquisitely curved legs that showcase the expert design and construction techniques that are hallmarks of Jackson's furniture.

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.

Two J-1 Writing Tables at rest during the assembly of the top and drawer surrounds.

A team of craftsmen work together to apply veneer to the bentwood form of the J-1 Writing Table. Adding veneer is the last step of the forming process.

A completed J-1 Writing Table in a satin finish.

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.

SHOP (Top Row): J-1 Cabriolet Executive Writing Table // Executive Suite Writing Table // Executive Suite Chairman's Desk

SHOP (Bottom Row): Maverick Writing Table // Partners Desk // Washington Hall Executive Desk

Follow Dakota Jackson to keep up to date on their latest products, news and announcements.

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