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02 December 2023

Not just a desk, but a work of art

By Reena Amos Dyes


What’s the first thing you notice when you walk into a CEO’s office (apart from the man himself)? It’s his desk. A CEO’s desk speaks volumes about the power he yields and about his personal taste and style. So, if you want to own an executive desk that will leave people awestruck and suitably impressed, then a Dh460,000 customised and hand-crafted Monarch executive desk and credenza is the one for you.

This desk, created by Renaissance Design, a design studio in California, is handmade out of burl walnut with hand-carved, black walnut panels and columns. The marquetry inlay patterns alone took many months to develop and resulted in patterns with more than 100,000 individual pieces of inlaid wood. The drawers are lined in leather and fitted with a unique cremone bolt locking system, which has been designed by the owner of the studio himself. There are three secret drawers included with false bottoms in some of them.

President of Renco Inc Ron Palladino, an American of Italian descent, who owns the design studio, told Emirates Business: “Every piece we build is hand-crafted, in the old-world fashion, using the most exotic and rare woods available worldwide, regardless of the cost. Every detail of the piece, inside and out is done to the highest standards and we never outsource material or labour to less expensive markets. Each piece is individually designed for the client, to become a one-of-a-kind heirloom piece to be handed down to future generations. All of our carving is done by hand, as are the inlays and assembly.”

And there is no limit to the kind of inlay work that the company can do. Inlays can be done in mother of pearl, lapis lazuli, gold, silver and jewels. And if you want to display your company logo or family crest, then you can have that too.

However, if you are one of those people who just can’t wait to get their hands on something once it takes their fancy, then maybe you should think twice about placing an order with Renaissance Design. They create just 12 pieces in a year and the waiting period for each piece, after the design has been approved by the client, is four to seven months. Giving an explanation Palladino says: “As all our work is done by hand and it requires highly skilled artisans to create furniture that looks like an antique and feels like silk to the touch, we have a limited amount of manpower.

“We have a small team, consisting of two joiners, one carver, two inlay artists, one turner, various journeymen doing sanding and detailing and two polishers doing the finishing. So, our usual delivery time is four to seven months from the time the design has been approved.”

But don’t the customers complain about having to wait this long? Palladino says: “We have built furniture for many types of clients, but the one thing they have in common is a passion for owning the finest furniture and a love of rare woods and old-world craftsmanship. So our clients don’t mind waiting because they are knowledgeable and particular enough to know that the kind of quality they are seeking takes time to achieve and they themselves will not settle for furniture of a lower calibre.”

The 44-year-old company does not limit itself to executive desks. Apart from the desks they also make chairs, tables, writing desks, cabinets and a few specialty pieces.

Talking about how his business started 44 years ago, Palladino says: “I began restoring and selling fine antiques in 1974. Because of our restoration skills, many customers began to request that we build custom pieces for them that would be of the same design, quality and authentic appearance as their antique furniture. Never being one to say no to a customer, I accepted these commissions and have been in the custom furniture business since then.”

Even though they produce just 12 pieces a year, they have clients coming to them from South America, Canada, Japan, Russia and China. Palladino very proudly considers each piece of furniture a work of art and his company’s advertising boasts of its pieces that are ‘“investment quality handcrafted furniture”.

Giving a reason for this, Palladino says: “No one can predict the future value of art pieces. But given the fact that there will never be any substantial quantity of these made and each of them are unusual as they are customised, it would not surprise me if they became collectors’ items in the future.”