Bespoke Furniture – Behind the Scenes.

I create unique pieces for homes around the world. It is always thrilling to work with new ideas and design inspiration that challenge and prove rewarding in so many ways.

My Equatorial Star Map Table is a commission work for a family of expatriate professionals in Bangkok, who literally wanted a one-of-a-kind dining table for their brand new home – which could also follow them in their next overseas posting.

The challenge was to find one full, solid slab with outstanding grain in the required dimensions. Following a handful of road trips to various provinces, the hunt prize came in the form of a no-longer wanted table from a rural family in Northern Thailand.

Below are the pictures of the table at its previous home.

The slab was heavily coated with cracking varnish. Deep marks and stains from decades of use were hiding the exceptional grain of the wood.

It takes eye and experience to see the potential beauty in this gem-in-the-raw. The wood is Thai Makha (Afzelia xylocarpa, ไม้มะค่า), a highly prized, rare hardwood which gives an outstanding finish. The wood is hard, heavy and dense and develops a beautiful patina as it ages.

As the slab was covered with thick varnished in its prior ‘life’, the first step was to strip off the coating on the wood and reset the grain to its original state.

A test with water after sanding reveals the stunning feather-like figure on one corner of the slab.
The client commissioned the table to feature a constellation on one side. After thorough consideration, the decision was made towards the full star map of the Southern hemisphere.
The star map of the Southern hemisphere was printed at the scale of the table, to serve as the layout of the inlay.
Each star was translated into a brass rod inlaid. In a minute, detail-oriented manner, Faisal selected each brass inlay to reflect the brightness and size of the corresponding star.
Each brass rod is individually picked, re-cut and bonded to the wood at its predetermined spot.
A careful grinding and sanding levels out the inlaid rods, revealing the full constellation star map.

Some water gently poured on the unfinished top gives a (muted) glimpse of how the top will look once hand rubbed with vegetal oil.

The client requested the option to securely mount a centerpiece with bolts that will pass through the table top.

In an effort to preserve the beauty of the table in the case of the centerpiece getting removed, Faisal decides to add six brass tube inserts: these guide the mounting bolts, while their shape, material and position aesthetically blend with the table. Form and function effortlessly combine.

The other side of the table is inlaid with a full, solid brass bar.
The smooth-to-the-touch sanded slab receives the first coat of plant-based oil, top and bottom. The grain immediately starts to shine through.

A few hours of hand rubbing will be necessary before the second coat and the second hand rubbing, which will bring out all the beauty of the wood. This is the last stage: one of the most time-intensive and also one of the most important to bring out the best the wood has to offer.

As part of Faisal Malik Design ethos, the bottom of the slab was kept in its original state. The chainsaw marks, characteristic furniture making generations ago, were carefully refined and smoothened before being oiled. Preserving the inherent charm of back of the slab, as a testament of its previous life.

The Equatorial Star Map Table is completed.


The base was engineered in blackened steel bars to support the weight of the solid slab top and the centerpiece.

Close-up of the star map.

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