Minimalist Zeal

By Jason Motz

Designer Martin Byers spent two years creating a desk unlike any other. The result of the 29-year-old’s creativity is the Abacus Desk. So cleverly named because of the ease in which the various components of the desk glide across the glass desktop in similar fashion to an abacus calculator.


The abacus desk was not built to store clutter. This is not the desk to just toss a set of keys on to, or to burry its surface with bills, flyers and weeks’ worth of newspapers. This is a desk of Zen designed with clarity, efficiency and accessibility in mind.


The beautifully handcrafted minimalist piece resonates with rich walnut wood and thick, custom-fit glass. The smooth lines and smoky grooves give the Abacus desk an opulent and decorative aesthetic, while maintaining functionality.


The desk features two suspended drawers, both adjustable and customizable to suit the customer’s needs. The most unique feature of the abacus desk is its floating drawers. The streamlined legs, influenced by the celebrated Noguchi Coffee Table, fold down to conform to just about any living space. “I took that shape and squared it off so that it could stand up right,” says Byers of the Noguchi-inspired process.


Sourcing most of his material from lumberyards looking for the right wood, specifically those pieces with noticeable marks of character, Byers jokes that he prefers using the “crappier wood” from lumberyards; but goes on to say that “when things are imperfect they catch your eye a little better.”


A graduate of Camosun College’s Fine Furniture program in Victoria, BC, Byers had a firm vision of his desired design. “I wanted to create a minimal desk that was visual but not in your face.” Originally loaned out to a Spa-owner friend, Byers “stole” it back, re-worked it and submitted it for IDSWest earlier this year.


For this emerging young designer, the design process is not static but one of efficient evolution. Byers will rework a project, adding and subtracting, until the results satisfy him. In the end, he says, “the best design is simple. It solves a bunch of problems visually.”

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