How we saved a McIntosh original table ...

Archive pic of the workers at AH McIntosh
Archive pic of the workers at AH McIntosh

It seems a little ironic that in the week that Ingvar Kamprad, the father figure of flat-pack furniture and founder of IKEA, died aged 91, I was battling to save a piece of office furniture that was anything but flat-packed.

The Fife Free Press moved to Carlyle House this week, just a few months shy of 50 years residence in Kirk Wynd.

Amongst the masses of furniture items, now rendered obsolete by the move to a smaller office, was a thing of pure 20th century beauty.

None other than a hand-made desk, originally commissioned as part of a move to Kirk Wynd by the directors of Strachan and Livingston back in the 1960s.

Originally one of a pair of bespoke desks, grand enough for the company directors, the one I was attempting to save was now a true one-off after the other was quite inexplicably broken up and discarded over around a decade ago.

Manufactured by the once internationally respected craftsmen of Kirkcaldy firm A.H McIntosh, I was determined– no, adamant – that this one would not suffer the same fate.

The problem I had was that it was the nearing the size of a small car ... and carrying nearly as much weight.

I’d already conceded that it was just too big to go in my own house, though it had taken me nearly a month and much chin stroking, measuring and contemplation to come to that reluctant decision.

So in came a fellow mid-century furniture friend to help save it from the skip.

Having sent him some photos he was round like a shot, and, after 15 minutes of glassy eyed admiration for such fine craftsmanship, so began the mystery of just how the humongous,yet incredibly stunning, piece of bespoke office furniture came to be in a little 15 foot by 10 foot office.

It certainly wasn’t going to go through the door in one piece.

But after removing all of the beautifully finished and fitted to perfection draws and carefully lifting off the huge L-shaped top piece, we were still no nearer understanding how the brown overalled McIntosh men had put the damn thing together.

The work and the detail was faultless, the joins were seamless and with much huffing, puffing and a lot of ‘‘to me, no to you’’, not forgetting having to acquire a bigger van than the one we had, the desk made it out of the office and down three flights of the fire escape.

Sadly, the halcyon days of McIntosh are now nothing more than a distant memory and a footnote in the history of British furniture.

Thankfully, with the emergence of a market for mid-century modern furniture and a new found appreciation in recent years, pieces like the desk will continue to be loved.

As for flat packed ... it certainly would have made it easier had this desk been so, but a lot less fun too.

Kamprad’s IKEA is now a £34bn global empire which reflects the modern world.

Bet he never made a desk as good as the one saved from Kirk Wynd.