The Butler, an elegant piece of hotel furniture
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The Butler, an elegant piece of hotel furniture

David Chipperfield

The Butler, an elegant piece of hotel furniture
By David Chipperfield -

The American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) has partnered with David Chipperfield Architects and e15 to re-imagine the hotel wardrobe / suitcase stand and create a bespoke piece of furniture that allows travellers to unpack their belongings easily and ensure they won’t leave anything behind.
London-based David Chipperfield Architects was invited by Wallpaper* to design an alternative to the traditional hotel wardrobe and chest of drawers to tie in with Wallpaper* Handmade’s theme for 2016 – travel and the Wallpaper* hotel. David Chipperfield Architects designed the piece and instructed furniture-makers e15, who manufacture much of the practice’s furniture. e15 pioneers the use of solid wood in its purest form and have crafted The Butler out of American willow.
The team at Wallpaper* travels often and rarely unpack fully in hotel rooms or make use of the standard wardrobes and suitcase stands. In an effort to re-define the in-room experience and make unpacking and re-packing an effortless and elegant experience, they commissioned David Chipperfield Architects to design a contemporary take on the valet stand crossed with a sideboard.
"Most hotels have badly designed wardrobes and cupboards,” says David Chipperfield. “They are not well organised and unpacking your suitcase is not enjoyable. The idea of Butler was to design a 'dressing table' that makes unpacking in a hotel room into a joy."
“We are thrilled to be working with such a distinguished creative team on such an exciting and very original piece. The timber is beautifully showcased within David Chipperfield and e15's unique design for our conceptual hotel room,” says Ellie Stathaki, Architecture Editor at Wallpaper*.
“This was the first time we worked with American willow, a wood that is much softer than e15’s primary material European oak, but we are very satisfied with the result,” says Jan Philip Holler, Senior Product Designer at e15 who worked on the project. “With a focus on premium craftsmanship, the furniture features a number of constructive details, such as a gap at the back of the piece which allows the wood to expand and shrink over time. American willow as the main material was combined with brushed brass, vegetal leather and Bianco Carrara marble to create a rich mix of materials. This interplay of pure materials creates an intriguing contrast with the reduced, architectural design of Butler.”
“This is our 5th collaboration with Wallpaper*’s innovative Handmade exhibition, which has proved a brilliant platform for us to experiment with our timbers and work with some great designers. Teaming up with a world-class architect such as David Chipperfield to explore a relatively unknown American hardwood, willow, has been really rewarding” says David Venables, European Director of the American Hardwood Export Council.  


American willow
American willow has light creamy brown sapwood; in contrast the heartwood is pale reddish brown to greyish brown.  The wood has a fine even texture and is generally straight grained. It is used for furniture, joinery and interior mouldings and in some markets it is stained to reproduce the lighter tones of walnut.



Location: Milan
Supported by: AHEC
Completion: 2016
Architects: David Chipperfield Architects

Photography: © Giovanni Nardi, Wolfram Scheible (opening photo)


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