In Clover

  • 2022

  • Product
    Furniture and Lighting

Commissioned By:

John Wardle

Designed In:


‘In Clover’ evolved in the sketch book of award-winning architect, John Wardle, and was realised by Bryan Cush of Sawdust Bureau. This unique dining table is crafted from Leatherwood & Tasmanian Oak, salvaged from the lakebed of Lake Pieman and is the result of a symbiotic relationship between designer and craftsman.

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  • The first obstacle faced was obtaining the timber as Leatherwood can no longer be harvested due to it’s importance for Tasmania’s apiarists. It is only these trees which have been submerged at the bottom of Lake Pieman since the 1980’s that allowed us this opportunity. Another major challenge was making the clover-shaped legs, which penetrate through the table-top, allowing for zero margin for error. The standard process to ‘under-cut’ the shape of the clover would be to utilise a 5-axis CNC, however budget and lead-time restraints challenged us to explore alternative methods of production.

  • The solution to create the legs on a 3-axis CNC was achieved through a collaboration with CNC experts, Like Butter. We developed a workflow where each leg began life as four quadrants. Two adjacent quadrants were clipped together (using lamello fasteners) and the CNC then milled the clover-profile into the upper faces of the pair. The pieces were then unclipped, rotated, the next quadrant added and the milling passes were repeated. The system was successful in creating highly accurate legs which protrude through matching voids in the Tasmanian Oak tabletop which were cut using a Shaper Origin handheld CNC.

  • In the words of John Wardle, ‘I sketched a myriad of shapes for legs that when extruded through the table top could form some kind of emblem. A four-leaf clover in its perfect geometry of intertwined radiuses suggests the good fortune of sharing a table and bountiful sociability’. The piece features pronounced cantilevers, sculptural legs which penetrate through the top (exposing the leatherwood’s spectacular end grain) and a sliding serving tray which glides down the centre of the split tabletop, adding to the social nature of the table. The half-clover 'bite mark' in the tabletop adds a sense of playfulness.

  • ‘In Clover’ was exhibited at Heide MOMA as part of John Wardle & Simon Lloyd’s joint exhibition, ‘Relatively Useful’, during Melbourne Design Week 2022. This piece epitomises Sawdust Bureau’s approach to minimising the carbon footprint of all pieces crafted in their workshop. They avoid the use of any imported timbers and instead opt for locally grown and sustainably harvested Eucalyptus species. In the case of ‘In Clover’ the trees had been submerged on the lakebed of Lake Pieman for almost 40 years creating a limited, but sustainable, source for Tasmanian Leatherwood unearthed by Hydrowood. It stands as a testament to respect of materiality and the environment yet how it is possible to craft a beautiful object which will last generations without having to cut down a single living tree.