Hand-made from start to finish: crafting the Rubricks chest of drawers.
A man on a scooter passes us, planks of wood sticking out of the bike’s tray as he leaves the reclaimed wood market. Jing, our reclaimed wood buyer, has wood delivered here after sourcing it from old houses around China. “Most of the reclaimed wood used in furniture is at least 40 years old, and sometimes over a hundred,” he tells us. “It’s full of marks showing the decades of use, which is what we look for when we’re picking pieces for the Rubricks chest of drawers.”
It’s not just reclaimed pine and elm that make this piece so diverse, but the range of materials and design techniques used. “We make the legs by hand using ash,” Hong Bo, our carpenter tells us. “First cutting the shapes out, then sanding them smooth.” He hammers the separate pieces together at the join, putting each one in its designated place until the base becomes the Scandinavian-style shape we’re so familiar with.
Pine and elm pieces sit in neat piles, cut, shaped, and ready to be made into drawers. This is Yong Ling’s speciality – he can make up to 600 a day. “There are many characteristics that help to give the Rubricks its special charm, but the drawers are the most defining. I make eight drawers, in eight different sizes. And when they’re done, each one gets a different brass or zinc handle.”
Finishing the Rubricks is an extensive process that begins with a dark stain made out of diluted black oil. Once dry, the frame and all of its drawers are sanded, waxed, and then sanded again, but this time by hand using just sandpaper to give them real control.
Lined up along the wall they stand, colour and texture fluctuating. “Scandinavian furniture from the mid-century is smooth,” Jing says. “Not only in its design, but in the materials.” He runs his hand over the chest’s top, putting his fingers in the grooves in the wood. “By using recycled materials with raw texture, this piece is transformed. It becomes a piece with real soul.”
Take a closer look at our Rubricks collection