Jeroen Verhoeven - Design London Thursday, May 12, 2022 | Phillips

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  • Shaping the Impossible

    When Dutch designer Jeroen Verhoeven first presented the concept of ‘Lectori Salutem’ to various manufacturers and craftsmen, they told him it would be impossible to achieve. ‘It can never be how you want it to be’, they said. Verhoeven remembers that moment as a realisation he was ‘on the right path. The path of resistance. Where new things are born’. This striking, limited-edition, piece is a testament to his vision, creativity, and determination. The thoughtful combination of highly skilled craftmanship and carefully programmed technical processes is visible throughout the work.

    This desk is a successor to the artist’s previous work ‘Cinderella Table’ (2005-2006), a pioneering feat of digital design inspired by the silhouettes of antique furniture and executed in machine carved plywood. The concept of that project was a simple juxtaposition of the profiles of a commode and a dressing table which generated a new set of complex curves.


    ‘Lectori Salutem’ was also inspired by a historic silhouette: a drawing by Parisian cabinetmaker François Linke. It is constructed using polished steel, a typically industrial material whose seemingly inflexible nature is subverted by using it to create flowing curves and undulating forms. Whilst being made from 150 individual steel panels joined by 2,300 bolts, the desk exudes elegance and movement achieved through a precise distribution of weight. The contrast between the raw steel and the resulting fluid shapes of the piece is remarkable.


    The ‘Lectori Salutem’ desk displays flowing curves
    The 'Lectori Salutem' desk's flowing curves


    The production of the piece required large-scale technical tools in order to acheive extremely accurate results in several different metalworking processes. For this reason, Verhoeven worked with an automotive factory to execute the desk, noting in a 2013 interview with Glenn Adamson that ‘a process normally used to make ten thousand of the same thing [was] now used to make only one. We wanted to compress all this attention and put it into one thing.' The artist’s personal mark was also subtly introduced during the manufacturing in the form of two silhouette portraits of Verhoeven’s collaborators, his brother Joep and design collaborator Judith de Graaw, visible at each end of the desk.


    ‘Lectori Salutem’ means ‘Greetings Reader’, an engaging title which encourages viewers to ‘read’ the work and witness the outstanding technological process behind it. We are invited to peer through the desk’s interior and notice how each steel pane is joined together. Shaping metal into this streamlined body went from an ambitious challenge to a successful feat in showcasing the bold production journey of this work. While respecting and acknowledging traditional craftsmanship, Verhoeven’s spectacular desk pushes the limits of modern manufacturing and creates wonder through its impressive design process.


    The limited-edition desk is signed and numbered 1/20
    The limited-edition desk is signed and numbered 1/20
    • Provenance

      Blain Southern, London
      Acquired from the above by the present owner, 2011

    • Literature

      Jeroen Verhoeven and Robert Cook, Jeroen Verhoeven: Lectori Salutem, London, 2013, throughout

Property of an Important European Collector


'Lectori Salutem' desk

Polished stainless steel.
78.4 x 236 x 109.5 cm (30 7/8 x 92 7/8 x 43 1/8 in.)
Produced by DEMAKERSVAN, the Netherlands. Number 1 from the edition of 20 plus 1 artist's proof. Interior with metal label impressed with artist's facsimile signature and DEMAKERSVAN/Jeroen Verhoeven/Lectori Salutem Desk/No. 1 of 20.

Full Cataloguing

£70,000 - 90,000 

Sold for £100,800

Contact Specialist

Antonia King

Head of Sale, Design
+44 20 7901 7944


London Auction 12 May 2022