A friend of mine from college recently moved to Brooklyn for law school. If there is one thing I have come to realize, it is that law students study hard and acquire lots of reading material along the way. So, my friend’s apartment isn’t that big, a typical “railroad” style in Bushwick. Her kitchen is also the dining room , the study and, the entry way. A few months ago she had asked me to build her a set of shelves for all of her law books as well as make a little space that she can do her readings and papers. I sketched out a few designs for her and she was pretty excited.
Below are a few of the initial drawings…
We wanted to keep the budget flexible, and I also wanted to experiment with “Oriented Strand Lumber.” It is extremely inexpensive (about $14.00 for a 4’x8’ sheet) has a great surface texture (especially when you put a gloss or satin on it) and, the best part is that it comes with information about the type of wood, installation methods, manufacturer, and so on printed right on the surface of the board almost like newsprint. In that, I saw a bit of an opportunity to use the information of the print and integrate that into the design of the shelves and desk.
One of the most important things about this project was that the shelves had to be fairly modular so that we could disassemble and reassemble them easily when it came time to move and install them into her apartment.
The desk was the biggest challenge because I wanted it to be fixed to the shelving unit, as well as fold down when she wasn’t using it for studying or anything else. I took the same width that the shelving units were, and made that the overall width of the desk so that it could fit inside the vertical boards along with the rest of the horizontal shelves. This also allowed the printed board to be a horizontal graphic when the desk was folded down. I measured overall desk dimensions from other examples I had in my apartment to make sure the surface of the desk was not to high to work comfortably on, but also looked proportional with the rest of the shelving unit. It also had to be short enough to fold down flush against the unit. I used a 1 1/8” wooden dowel for the pivot connection of the desk and bored it into the vertical members so that the dowel could be pulled into the frame and locked when the shelves were finally assembled.
This meant that the legs of the desk had to be removable and somehow rest on the edge of the desk when it was closed. I used angled cut wood for each of the two legs as sort of a way finding system for attaching the legs without any instruction.
Once all of this was completed the whole thing was assembled into two units that were connected with purple (her favorite color) shelves that interlocked with one another. This was so that the shelves could be broken down into two units and could be next to one another or separate depending on the need in the space.
Finally, I attached a small reading lamp with a light socket I had left over from another project and the whole thing came together.