Dining Island


  • Sawdust Bureau
  • Jina He
  • Ki Jun Lo


‘Dining Island’ is a bespoke commission design for a compact apartment with limited kitchen and storage space. The brief called for an island bench that would spend the majority of it’s time ‘docked’ in a 2-seater configuration but which could expand to accomodate up to 6 seats for entertaining friends and family.

The custom design and manufacture of the sliding mechanism was done in house and supports the dining table section on a matrix of low friction nylon rollers, allowing for one person to easily extend the table.

Key Features


– The biggest challenge with Dining island was creating an aesthetically well-proportioned piece in both docked and expandable configurations.

– The clients had extremely limited kitchen space in their compact studio apartment but also viewed food preparation and dining as a key experience they wanted to share with their friends and extended family group, despite the fact their apartment was only large enough to accomodate either and island bench or a dining table.


– The function and design of the piece creates a multi-purpose living, dining and food preparation hub for daily life in the apartment. It provides the clients with ample storage space; a bonus in an apartment with limited cupboard space.

– Materiality was driven by the client’s desire for a concrete top for the island bench, but after researching alternative composite and more environmentally sustainable options, I persuaded them to utilise Kobeboard (a hybrid material made from portland cement and reconstituted eucalyptus wood offcuts). All other timber in the piece is sustainably sourced Australian hardwood and plywood.


– The piece transforms from kitchen food preparation benchtop and compact 2 person dining out to accomodate up to 6 people.

– The modular nature of the internal joinery allows for it to be reconfigured and customised to suit any space. It dismantles into 4 main sections (plus joinery), with a removable lower steel strut in the steel framing, allowing for easy installation into tight apartment spaces (a key design consideration with this piece).


– The main innovation in this piece is in the design of sliding mechanism. After client consultation it was decided that traditional fold-out extension leaves were too bulky and awkward so I was given the challenge of creating a sliding mechanism which could be extended by only one person.

– The modular nature of the internal joinery allows it to be easily reconfigured to suit any specification. It dismantles into 4 main sections (plus joinery), with a removable lower steel strut in the steel framing, allowing for easy install into tight apartment spaces – a key design consideration.


– Joinery storage in the piece includes adjustable shelving for crockery, a 20-bottle wine rack on cantilevered dowel and bookshelves.

– In terms of safety we have used high quality, heavy duty hardware throughout and utilised materials with low VOC finishes.

– The piece is fully bespoke, with all the hardware, framing and joinery designed and made in our Melbourne workshop.

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