The Gravel Plant desk series was developed by Dutch designer Mieke Meijer who drew inspiration from the utilitarian forms of industrial buildings. The writing desk also incorporates a complex shelving unit composed of a recycled oak framework with a glass cabinet at the top.
As mentioned, the Gravel Plant desks were inspired by real-world industrial structures, and we weren’t kidding! By taking a look at the desk and the building upon which it was based side-by-side we can see the startling similarities in their forms.
Mieke Meijer was inspired by factories including gravel plants while creating her writing desk as the designs of these buildings were entirely practical; the compositions of the structures and the features included were suited only to that factory’s particular purpose. Unfortunately due to their specific uses, many of these industrial sites across Europe have since been dismantled as the factories were no longer economically viable. But in 1959, Bernd and Hilla Becher began photographing industrial architecture to preserve the history of these under-appreciated lost buildings, and it is from these photographs that Mieke Meijer came to base her desks.
These unusual architectural forms have revived by Mieke Meijer in her Gravel Plant writing desks by transposing the compositions of the forgotten building’s exteriors into furniture intended for interiors. Even the materials used and the way in which the desk and shelves are assembled is utilitarian. The oak framework is all of uniform width and thickness, joined together with simple screws, and as a result the furniture ends up feeling like it was made of Meccano.
Mieke Meijer designed two Gravel Plant desks, the tall 01, and the wider 02 desk as pictured just above. The Gravel Plant 02 desk was based on a separate factory’s composition but I found its form less ambitious and as a result chose to focus on the taller, more angular 01 desk. However when the two designs are combined as pictured below, a truly remarkable, playfully chaotic workspace is created.
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