One of the standout pieces that had design fans swooning during September’s London Design Festival was an impressively super-sized desk, beautifully crafted from cypress wood. Conceived as a complete workstation with integral storage and an angled surface, where designers or architects can work while standing, it brilliantly combines functionality and aesthetic flair. Designed by the late US artist and sculptor Donald Judd, it is now making an appearance in The Conran Shop’s Sloane Avenue store – something of a coup, since this is the first major retailer to sell the acclaimed artist’s furniture. Until now it has been difficult to purchase these designs in the UK, even though they are still produced and made to order by the US-based Judd Foundation, set up to preserve the artist’s legacy after his death in 1994.
Like many creators, Judd was responding to his own needs when he started designing furniture in the 1960s. His simple yet practical chairs, desks and beds were designed to furnish his home in Marfa, western Texas, but it wasn’t long before he began making the designs commercially in small production runs. Initially constructed from raw pine and later from hardwood and sheet metal, the minimal shapes reflect his interest in pure, uncomplicated forms. Judd was meticulous about construction methods and the same high standards apply to the handcrafted pieces on show at The Conran Shop. These include the magnificent standing desk (second picture, £24,000), practical library desk (first picture, £21,000), cocooning single bed with futon (£25,000), five styles of chair (third picture, £2,200 each) and cheerful stools in bright yellow or red (£2,200 each).
When these eye-catching designs disappear from the shop’s windows, any unsold pieces will remain in its furniture department, but – given the interest in this work – probably not for long.