British designer Amanda Levete commissioned student Win Assakul to create a reversible shallow fruit or cheese bowl, part of the European Wish List design challenge sponsored by the American Hardwood Export Council. The project was done in walnut.
In partnership with the American Hardwood Council, 10 diverse designs were tried, tested and crafted as part of designer Sir Terence Conran’s 'The Wish List' – a project which paired ten world-leading creative minds with a younger generation of rising talent. The project is part of the American Hardwood Export Council's efforts to promote awareness of American hardwoods and increase exports. Sir Terence, co-founder of Benchmark Furniture, instigated the project when he asked
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his designer friends: “What have you always wanted in your home, but never been able to find?” Under their mentorship, young up-and-coming names designed and produced the items, which were displayed as part of a London Design Festival. The pieces were crafted at Benchmark's studio and factory in Kintbury, West Berkshire in England.
"We often have dinners at home for 18 people," says Levete. "Our table is 4.8 m long and I have always wanted a long, shallow bowl to run almost the length of the table. But for smaller dinners of say 6 –12 people, I don't want such a long bowl. By making it extendable we resolve this."
Inspired by African wooden bowls that reveal the beauty and depth of the wood grain as well as the hand of the maker this will make for an exquisite piece..
Amanda chose to work with Win having mentored him previously during his year off before returning to graduate in architecture.
"Win has a real understanding for materials and is a strong conceptual thinker. It is a privilege to mentor someone who is just starting out," Amanda says. "Win Assakul was the best year out student we have ever had, he has a real understanding for materials and is a strong conceptual thinker. I have high hopes for him."
The aim was to have something that could be used either for cold meats and cheese, or for fruit. The latter would need a different profile, and out of this grew the idea that the dish should be reversible – relatively flat on one side and more curved on the other.
"Out of this," says Levete, "came the idea that it should be modular and slot together. And the idea of storage was important as well. I wanted it to look precious. The box it goes into should be as beautiful as what is inside."
Levete also had a sense of what she wanted the bowl to look like.
"There is a rich tradition of shallow African bowls," she says. "They are often embellished with rich materials or with engraving. It is the kind of thing that I would never do for myself – I would never be so extravagant." Assakul (at right) designed the piece using walnut, edged in brass with a matching walnut box for storage
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