It’s Got Legs

Like that of most fledgling architectural firms, the office decor at Della Valle Bernheimer was for years a motley assortment of Ikea pieces and salvaged street finds. But in 2005 founding partners Andy Bernheimer and Jared Della Valle decided to replace their postcollegiate aesthetic with a more sophisticated look. Their first priority was upgrading their desks. After judging the standard options offered by the likes of Knoll and USM too expensive, and deeming workstations assembled from prefabricated parts too ugly, they chose to design their own. “Instead of buying furniture that we liked but maybe didn’t love,” Bern­heimer says, “we decided to spend the money on developing a product and buying the equipment and then making something.”

The result is Jack, an innovative desk system so-named because its spindly aluminum legs resemble the children’s toy. The legs are also a model of flexibility and frugality. Each consists of two components drawn from the same mold (a source of savings), which are joined to­gether with a simple bolt. Multiple legs can be arranged to accommodate tabletops of any size and geometry, whether square, oval, or L-shaped. To suit their needs, the architects furnished their workstations with rectangular customizable tabletops made of Surell.

Bernheimer and Della Valle are pursuing a patent for Jack but are unsure of how they will ultimately produce and market it—as a full desk, complete with an expensive tabletop? Or as an affordable set of legs, with buyers encouraged to provide their own work surfaces? Whatever the final version, the architects are encouraged by their foray into industrial design. “Unlike the houses we build, which are typically one-off, this product can be deployed thousands of times,” Della Valle says.

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