By a show of hands: Who has ever encountered any wooden cargo boxes stacked up near a train station? Hands up again if you have simply moved onwards in your journey without giving them much thought...
Someone did not forget, however. Meet South Africa born Gareth Knott. He has loved the strong visual and physical elements of these boxes so much that he proceeded to design them into coffee tables!
According to Gareth's website, "a box has never looked so good." Say what? A box is just a box, oder?
My curiosity sufficiently piqued, I arranged to meet up Gareth for a cup of coffee to find out more about the man and his story behind the table.
Working in the Hardbrücke area meant that Gareth passed by these train cargo boxes daily. Coincidentally, he also had a desire for a good-looking coffee table. With a few 3D visualizations of his dream table in hand, Gareth went searching high and low for someone to produce one.
It proved to be quite a challenge. Especially when you are not keen to compromise on the concept, the quality and the label of a „responsibly made“ product...
It was not until Gareth's birthday last year that his wife gave him the best surprise ever: She found someone in Zürich who was in tune with the vision and on board to bringing the coffee table idea to life. The rest, as we say, was history.
Too Cool for School (but not Hipster!)
The Swiss Railway SBB has already gotten one for its offices, and another coffee table currently stands proudly at the door of the Rrrevolve Concept Store in Zürich's Niederdorf.
I actually gasped when I saw Gareth's upcycled coffee table in its fully glory: With its chic industrial vibe, it is simply too cool for school. It is sexy. It is edgy. And with that SBB mark on it, it simply encompasses everything that is quintessentially Swiss!
Achtung: I will get very upset with anyone who says that it is hipster!
I am a Zürcher and an advocate of recycling and buying all things local. The cherry on top of the table was when I learned that it is 100 percent made in Zürich. With his designs, Gareth hopes to create more awareness for buying recycled rather than new products.
I could not agree more. I only wish that I had 900 francs of change in my pocket there and then. That is how much the smallest coffee table will set you back (76cm x 76cm x 44cm). After making a mental note to save up for one, I chatted more with Gareth and he gamely answered my list of frivolous questions about his experience living here in Switzerland.
Some Good Tips from a Zürich Local...
A Zürcher of four years, this man counts Café Henrici and Frau Gerolds Garten as his go-to places for good coffee and beers. He cannot get enough of a Winterthur beer called "Chopfab", and to avoid developing an "I love-beer-too-much" gut, he can be found cycling along the lake from the city down to Meilen on the weekends...
Gareth treasures the freedom to walk anywhere within Zürich (without getting mugged!), and he admires the fantastic respect amongst people here. I nodded vigorously in agreement.
What about his biggest piece of advice for anyone considering a move to Switzerland? "Connect with the locals." Indeed. With a coffee table that captures the spirit of what the Swiss generally love, this man is already well on his way.