The making of a modern heirloom

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‘Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.’

The golden rule of Arts and Crafts pioneer William Morris finds a strikingly modern expression in ‘Shoe Tree’, a masterpiece of contemporary design and craft from British design collective Joined + Jointed.

Shoe Tree

With its tall, open-frame tower housing 15 individual handmade wooden boxes, Shoe Tree is immediately captivating. On closer inspection, the wealth of detail – book-matched marquetry, immaculate finger joints, the little glass window – speaks eloquently of its worth as a beautiful piece of contemporary craft.

“Boxes are intriguing. They hold surprises, and invite discovery,” says Joined + Jointed founder Samuel Chan. “They are also useful of course: they bring order to our lives. Whenever we put Shoe Tree on display everyone is drawn to it. People are not sure whether it’s sculpture or furniture. Then they realise it’s both, and they instinctively see the value in that.”

This unique piece of original design, made with solid American black walnut, was originally commissioned by Wallpaper* magazine as part of its annual exhibition of contemporary handmade objects in Milan. The project teamed Samuel Chan with shoe designer Beatrix Ong, with a brief to come up with a solution for shoe storage.

Shoe Tree Close Up

“Storing shoes is always challenging in terms of space and aesthetic,’ says Beatrix Ong. “I wanted to create a piece that is both storage and display, movable, and with clean lines. I wanted to utilise Samuel’s incredible knowledge of designing with wood, and the skills of his workshop. So we came up with the idea to make 15 standard sized shoe boxes, but in wood and with great craft details, and then to arrange them in this structure that offers flexibility of use. It’s a monumental looking piece, but also quite playful.”

Since its launch in 2016, Shoe Tree has been shown internationally and become a collectible piece of modern furniture. Editions of Shoe Tree are found in the homes of clients around the world, who use it as a piece of functional furniture, but also appreciate its ability to transform a space in the way that the best art does.

“Our customers recognise that Shoe Tree is a heritage piece,” says Samuel Chan. “It takes our makers many hours of focus and skill to produce each one, and I’m so glad they have the satisfaction of knowing that their work will be passed down from generation to generation.”

Shoe Tree is a Joined + Jointed Special Edition.

joined and jointed logo

Joined + Jointed, 1 New King’s Road, Fulham, London, SW6 4SB



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