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The Amazing Creations of the Roentgen Family

Recent design trends tend towards the most use one can get from an object. That said, to those who think modular and smart furniture are at the height of design, it turns out 18th-century table and cabinet designers did it much better.

Abraham and David Roentgen were a German father and son team of carpenters. They lived in the 18th century and were famous throughout Europe for their inspired and complex creations, combining hidden compartments, automatic drawers, advanced mechanisms - all wrapped up in spectacular wooden design.

I'd like to introduce you to 5 incredible creations that will showcase their unbelievable work and are still astounding people 200 years later. 


The Berlin Secretary Cabinet
This cabinet is considered by many as the most famous creation of the Roentgen family. It was made for Freidrich Wilhelm II, King of Prussia. This cabinet holds many secret parts that can all be opened with the push of a button, opening in a way you never suspected. The head of the cabinet contains a gold-decorated clock. 

The work desk Abraham Roentgen made for his patron
This work desk was built by the father of the family to his main patron, Johann Philipp Waldorf, as a thanks for many years of support. Almost all parts of the table can be moved and opened, which unveils the hidden ells Johann could (as a central figure in the Catholic Church) hide his personal documents. At the end of the work day, the table can even transform and be used for praying - thus filling two key roles in the life of the patron. 

The roll-top table of David Roentgen
The son, just as skilled as his father, uses what he was taught and adds some impressive mechanical innovations. A single key opens almost every compartment and drawer in this table, according to how deep it is entered and to which direction it points. Instead of painting his work, David went another way and built it with a variety of exotic trees from around the world, giving it deep, rich tones and hues. 

The dressing table
At a first glance, this simple dressing table doesn't look like one of the most complex European furniture creations of the 18th century. A deeper look, however, will find a world of drawers and secret compartments, meant to contain all the beauty secrets of a noble woman. This table was apparently ordered as a wedding gift from Friedrich August III, ruler of Saxon, for his new bride. The main mirror hides under the surface of the table, and a large tray can be opened in front of it, used apparently to mix different powders.

The musical dolls of David Roentgen
David used the mechanical secrets he learned at the family workshop to make other things, as well. This automaton was one of his most famous creations. It was a secret project of his, made to surprise his patron, King Louie XVI as a gift to his wife - Marie Antoinette. This elegant music doll still works and makes beautiful music to this day. 
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