Beston Barnett Design

fine custom furniture and woodworking

Stein Dresser

21″w x 52″h x 17″d, sapele mahogany, walnut, aromatic cedar

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Solomon’s Cabinets: Clavicula

44″w, 19″h, 17″d, mahogany, jarrah, gold leaf

“Clavicula” (“Key” in Latin) is part of a series of cabinets which use the abstract vocabulary of Islamic geometry to illustrate legends of the biblical King Solomon. During the Renaissance, a whole body of legends sprang up around Solomon having to do with sorcery, alchemy, and demonology. The “Clavicula Salomonis” (in Latin, though there were also Greek and Hebrew versions) was a grimoire from this era, pseudepigraphically attributed to Solomon and filled with seals or “pentacles” (often six- or seven-pointed) to be used as part of magical experiments. Solomon is said to have locked his harem with such seals. Here, I’ve criss-crossed three doors with an over-under lattice of six-fold geometry, “sealed” with a seven-pointed polygon. The slats are carved and gilt, to form undulating golden curves, suggesting the harem imprisoned. The interior of the cabinet features various of the actual “pentacles” from the books of magic, inlaid in quilted mahogany. With three ornamented doors, the cabinet can be mounted on a stand or hung on a wall with a French clete (as pictured).


Solomon’s Cabinets: Altajwal

44″w, 19″h, 17″d, maple, holly, anigre

“Altajwal” (“The wanderings” in Arabic) is part of a series of cabinets which use the abstract vocabulary of Islamic geometry to illustrate legends of the biblical King Solomon. In the Talmudic tradition, Solomon is tricked out of his homeland by the Prince of Demons, and forced to wander lost in the desert for a number of years. I’ve taken a traditional biomorphic Mamluk pattern often found in stonework and carved much of it away to suggest ruins submerged in sand dunes.

The story goes that the demon-prince, Ashmedai, takes Solomon’s magic ring and throws it miles away into the Mediterranean. After years of wandering as a beggar, Solomon is eating a fish when he bites down to find his own ring in its stomach. Like many such legends, the story also appears in Herodotus, though its origin may be in some third earlier source. Here I’ve used two brass pulls on carved drawers hidden within the cabinet: one as the eye of the fish, the other as the ring in its belly. I wanted to carve a fish that might have been eaten in the ancient Middle East, but the ecosystem of the Mediterranean has changed drastically since the construction of the Suez Canal. In my research I found the Argyrosomus regius (“Royal drum fish” in Latin), similar to a bass, which is also known by the common name “jewfish,” and used it as my model.

With two sliding doors and two concealed drawers, the cabinet can be mounted on a stand or hung on a wall with a French clete (as pictured).


Solomon’s Cabinets: Aljinu

44″w, 19″h, 17″d, mahogany, walnut, cherry, jarrah, ash, gold leaf

“Aljinu” (“The djinn” in Arabic) is part of a series of cabinets which use the abstract vocabulary of Islamic geometry to illustrate legends of the biblical King Solomon. In the Islamic tradition, Solomon builds the Temple by controlling an army of djinn. The djinn are said to come from a world made of fire, and are sometimes depicted as fantastical animal hybrids. Here, I’ve used gold to suggest fire, a horseshoe arch to suggest a portal, and non-repeating patterns with varied woods to suggest a chaotic, unpredictable world. The djinn themselves look out from the centers of stars: a winged sphinx, a horned goat man, a Medusa-like creature, a salamander with a fiery tail. With two doors and a display space at one end, the cabinet can be mounted on a stand or hung on a wall with a French clete (as pictured).

* geometry note: Both the larger lattice and the smaller gold patterns are based on Penrose tilings. And where most Islamic lattice adopts either a mitered or an under-over approach at intersections, here I’ve done both: over-under in the ten-pointed star segments, mitered at all other intersections.


Solomon’s Cabinets: Wadi Alnaml

44″w, 19″h, 17″d, walnut, ebonized walnut, silver wax

“Wadi Alnaml” is part of a series of cabinets which use the abstract vocabulary of Islamic geometry to illustrate legends of the biblical King Solomon. Translated from Arabic as “Valley of the Ants,” the title refers to the 27th chapter of the Quran, within which Solomon (who can understand the languages of all creatures) overhears an ant queen warning her subjects that the armies of the great king are coming and will crush them. Solomon is amused and either diverts his army to travel only on one side of the valley or, in another version, crosses the valley on a flying carpet . Here, I’ve used a circular Kufic script to write out the words “Wadi Alnaml” three times, and suggested the burrowing of the ants with organic lines which a pattern of five- and ten-pointed stars shine between. With two doors and an open display space at the center, the cabinet can be mounted on a stand or hung on a wall with a French clete (as pictured).


Solomon’s Cabinets: Al Tabut

44″w, 31″h, 17″ d, walnut, wenge, holly

“Al Tabut” (“the ark” in Arabic) is part of a series of cabinets which use the abstract vocabulary of Islamic geometry to illustrate legends of the biblical King Solomon. Among his many accomplishments, Solomon is said to have built the first temple to house the Ark of the Covenant. Here I’ve used a dense dark latticed border around a simpler rectangle of holly to suggest something heavy and ornate guarding something simple and precious. The two ornamented sliding doors conceal a single drawer. Like the other pieces in the series, the cabinet can be mounted on a stand (as pictured) or hung on a wall with a French clete.

* geometry note: This 8-pointed star pattern, fairly common in Mamluk latticework, is complicated here by making parts of the pattern curved, other parts straight, and allowing them to interact.


Al Uqueaa

12″x26″x2″ walnut, wenge, and mirror

This wall-hung piece plays with overlapping latticeworks based on Mamluk design from 13th century Egypt and animal forms. ‘Al Uqueaa’ is the Arabic transliteration of ‘the snake’.

 


Mamluk Book Stand

24″x16″x11″ walnut and wenge

A book stand ornamented with overlapping lattices inspired by the Arabic geometries of the 13th century Mamluk Dynasty.


Landworth Tables

diameters: 14-22″, heights: 15-19″, walnut and wenge

The client had this interesting idea for little coffee tables that could be huddled together or moved around the room, even sat on. The result is these seven tripod tables incorporating a single leg that comes through the top and a wenge butterfly key.


Landworth Sideboard

60″x20″x36″ walnut and wenge

An expanded reworking of an earlier design, this sideboard has three drawers with intricate latticework, two sliding doors, and a floating bookmatched top.


Dining Benches

38″x13″x19″ mahogany and vinyl leather

These mahogany benches – with floating cushions, sculpted curves, and playful latticework – seat two comfortably for dinner.


Reader Lounge

70″x29″x39″ mahogany and vinyl leather

A large chaise lounge with an exposed mahogany frame and upholstery by my friend Molly Whittaker.


Bronner Sideboard

60″x20″x36″ walnut and wenge

With three small drawers and two sliding doors, this sideboard combines a Chinese silhouette with contemporary lines, exposed joinery, and rich contrasting wood grains.

 


Walnut Vanity

40″x33″x18″, walnut, porcelain sink, and Fortis faucets

Two drawers and two doors, all with soft-closing hardware, quilted solid walnut, and a modern Japanese aesthetic make this vanity both practical and beautiful.


Arab Spring #2

13″x14″x21″  cherry, bleached alder, cocobolo, latex paint, and white wax

The “Arab Spring” series incorporates Egyptian geometries and grafitti-inspired calligraphy, allowing me to experiment with more relief work on the CNC router. I was so happy with my original three-drawer piece  that I decided to make another with a few changes: cherry wood and bleach to lighten the overall effect and a bottom shelf for magazines.


Arab Spring

21″x14″x13″, walnut, tamo ash, dye, graphite

This piece was a commission in which the client let me run wild. Playing with the Egyptian geometries I’ve been interested in, and adding some grafitti-inspired calligraphy allowed me to experiment with more relief work on the CNC router. The idea for a floating black cube was very much inspired by the Kaaba in Mecca.


Monkey Tail Desk

45″x22″x59″, walnut ply

This fun, compact desk – with its book cubbies, pencil slot, hinged top, and built-in “monkey tail” lamp – was cut out, joints and all,  from one and a half sheets of walnut ply on a CNC router.


Brantuas’ Sideboard and Cabinet

table: 57″x20″x41″, cabinet: 46″x17″x16″, walnut and ebonized walnut

Square Kufic – an ancient form of Arabic calligraphy – ornaments a sideboard table and matching wall cabinet of solid walnut.


Kufic Boxes #1 and #2

9″x9″x4″, walnut and upholstery

The maze-like carvings on these jewelry boxes are an ancient form of Arabic calligraphy: they repeat the word for “jewelry” 14 times.


Dovetailed Shoe Bench

38″x14″x21″  walnut

A bench, two shelves for shoes, and drawer for whatever’s in your pocket when you come in the door.  All from scrap walnut lying around the shop.