April 2016

Cracked Earth Table

This is the first finished piece from Pattern-Book Qatar: Designed in Qatar, Made in Qatar.

It is a large table and – as with all of Pattern-Book products – its pattern tells a story. The patterns of the earth as it dries and curves and cracks in the Sun have been traced and meshed to create a dynamic field of timber inlay. Floating shapes are captured in time and space.

The genius of computer technology and the work of the human hand are in balance here; from the moment when a photograph was taken looking down at the ground, followed by pencil tracings and the creation of computer modules and final drawings sent to the wood workers, to the laser cutting and CNC, used to make the final piece.

The story told is that of the sunken palm garden of Al Rayyan. one of the walled ‘rawdahs’ in the desert, West of Doha, where the Al Thani family would spend time in the cooler months of the year – the rainy season – and date palms were cultivated. It was just south of here, in the Wadi al Shaqab Fort, that the Ottoman forces hid in their flight from Jassim bin Mohammed in1893, after their defeat at the Battle of Wajba; an event which led in the end to the creation of the State of Qatar. In the Winter rains, which are so much less these days than in the past, the water floods in torrents into the low point of the rawdah, forming meandering gullies and wadi paths. It is here that the earth gradually dries, making thick curved ‘biscuits’ of clay as it cracks.

The table is indeed a joy to work on. A broad clear table surface has always been for me symbolic of an ideal way to work. I did wonder if the patterned surface would be distracting as I draw but, to the contrary, I find that its ambient intensity helps the eye to focus on the work in hand.

To add to the pleasure of woods; a meditative aid to concentration.working in a quiet space, with good daylight and a large, well-made working plane, the surface of the Cracked Earth Table is itself irresistibly tactile. As I work, I find my fingers tracking the edges of the shapes between the lighter and darker

To complete this experience of tactile and visual delight, the smell of linseed oil is the crowning pleasure. Unlike so much fine furniture I see today, this table has a living surface; it has not been encapsulated by an impermeable layer of varnish; rather it is allowed to breath.