A lot of our designs start with oak. It’s strong, it’s beautiful, and it has a wonderful sense of heritage about it. In Carter – the dining table and every other piece – it’s taken through a process of brushing, staining and buffing. This removes the soft fibres from the grain – so it stands just-proud – adds tonal variation between the grooves and the raised areas, and leaves it with a reach-out-and-touch surface (that’s never rough or uneven).
What’s unusual about the dining table is that it’s made from several pieces of oak that stretch from one end to the other – and even right the way through the extension leaves. Making tables this way isn’t unheard of, but it’s usually reserved for one-off pieces. Normally, tables are made with a central panel that’s framed by more solid timber, or with the grain of the wood running across the width – it’s how we make most of our other tables. Carter’s quite exceptional in that respect.
It can also be quite difficult to find pieces of oak that are both long enough for the whole, extended table, and that meet our exacting standards. We were able to source these because we work with the forest (in the Appalachian region of North America) in which they’re grown. We think all this effort is worth it though, because the result is a table that’s very streamlined.
Carter’s steel legs play an important part in referencing industrial design. Traditionally, they would’ve been given their blackened appearance through quenching (rapidly cooling the steel in oil). We found it’s just not very practical for us though, especially as it’s quite a dangerous process often carried out on an industrial scale or on smaller pieces by artisan blacksmiths.
We’re not afraid to use modern techniques when they offer a better option, so instead, we chose to powder coat the steel. Unlike liquid coatings, there are no solvents involved and so no VOCs are released. The powder is baked to set it hard and ensure a permanently durable finish. It also lets us combine the almost-black colour with just a hint of bronze, for a depth and warmth that make all the difference. And it leaves a perfectly smooth surface that’s still slightly metallic. The resulting legs are sturdy, and certainly industrially inspired, but they also feel elegant, polished and, ironically, lightweight in aesthetic.
The Carter table
You probably won’t notice all the things – big and small – that make the Carter dining table special, but we hope you’ll feel them in its solidity, its longevity, its attention to detail, and when you run your hand across its surface. Like the rest of the Carter collection, its wood-meets-metal design sits happily within our classic English aesthetic because it’s rustic but refined, contemporary but simple enough to be timeless.