ILE – red oak modular furniture for the spaces in between


Previewing as part of the British Collection at St James’ Crypt during Clerkenwell Design Week 2024, ILE by Foster + Partners Industrial Design and Benchmark is a flexible family of timber furniture comprising a range of interlocking elements. The collection was conceived as a way to maximise the use of underutilised spaces in the workplace – the ‘in-between areas’ that can often be wasted or inefficient. ILE comprises benches, tables, lockers, shelves and planters, which can be connected via an innovative timber fixing strip both back to back and side to side, optimising office space and facilitating different modes of working.

The system is designed to accommodate lighting rails and power displays – as well as accessories such as shelves and book ends – at any position on the worktop. With most offices undergoing 10 fit-outs in an average 60-year lifespan, this level of adaptability – coupled with the inherent durability of the hardwood – helps maximise the lifespan of the furniture. 

‘Our ambition was to create a highly flexible, solid timber system that can be easily reconfigured – while simultaneously embodying the high level of craft and quality that Benchmark is known for.’ Mike Holland, Head of Industrial Design, Foster + Partners

ILE makes use of two solid timbers – American red oak and British ash – both of which are practical, affordable, attractive and sustainable. The red oak, sourced from forests in the Northern Appalachians, is notable for its rapid rate of regeneration. Despite the fact it makes up around 18% of the hardwood forest of North America, it is massively underused, making its usage in ILE a net benefit in terms of making a more sustainable use of the forest.

Find out more about American red oak here

For more images, download the press kit here

Photo by Gordon Stabbins courtesy of Benchmark. 


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