David Hardwick’s ‘Unfold’ Desk was inspired by the writing bureaus of yesteryear, such as the classic rolltop desk, yet modified for modern-day usage. Designed to suit laptops and tablets, it has storage space, cable management and built-in speakers, as well as an expandable work area.

When in use, the tabletop slides open, like an envelope, to enlarge the surface area, converting it into a functional workstation. Then, when no longer in use, the desktop slides back into place, returning the unit to a compact size and hiding the clutter within.

“The concept for the table was borne from a variety of significant changes in home environments, workplace demands and consumer behaviour. With laptop and tablet sales predicted to make up 80 per cent of all computer sales by 2015, a trend towards apartment living and smaller homes and the demands of a modern professional requiring extra hours of work to be done in the home it was important that a home workstation reflected these new demands,” says Hardwick.

“The main concept for the design was to create a functional workstation for a laptop/tablet user that was compact yet not constrictive, ergonomically suitable and could be hidden away when not in use. The idea of concealment and revelation became the defining factor for the form and the way the table functions.”

Just as with the immortal rolltop desk of bygone days, people seek to hide all the clutter contained on the surface of the desk – papers, pens, and odds and ends – not to mention, in the 21st century, cords, speakers, keyboards and mice, so Hardwick set out to find a modern-day solution to masking the inevitable disorder. “The problem is old,” he says, “and this is a contemporary solution that reflects a tech-crazy consumer on the one hand, but also the desire to be able to switch off from it all.”

Additionally, he sought to develop a compact workstation that could be tucked away discretely when not in use, so it wouldn’t dominate precious space in homes and apartments. “The sliding lids have been folded around the table-top like an envelope concealing the contents within. Upon opening the envelope, the sliding lids at full width almost appear as wings as the table comes to life with the purpose and full functionality of the table revealed.”

Made of bamboo board, mild-steel rod and aluminium sheet, the materials were selected for their longevity of performance, as well as their strength to weight ratio. The materials can be easily recycled if necessary, while the aluminium sheets that form the sliding desktop ‘wings’, as well as the support frame, can be replaced if failure occurs.

“The table-top itself is made from a laminated bamboo board. This is the only component that cannot be recycled so it was important to choose a material that had the most minimal impact on the environment,” says Hardwick.

The lightweight, compactable design, which is 90 cm wide x 60 cm deep x 85 cm high, also makes it practical for the mass market in places like hot desk environments, hotels, libraries, and schools and universities.

The ‘Unfold’ Desk took first prize in the Prototype category at the Vivid Furniture competition in Melbourne and runner-up in the Launch Pad competition and has been on exhibition in London as part of the London Design Festival.

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