Behind the Design | Love the Ligni look

At Clerkenwell Design Week 2018, Sven unveiled the latest additions to the contemporary Ligni collection. Here, we go 'behind the design' and hear from Peter Milner, Sven's Product Design Manager behind the Ligni line.

Behind the Design | Love the Ligni look

An up close and personal insight into the making of our Ligni range

“I started working on designs for what became our Ligni product line back in September 2016, aware of a growing trend towards a more domestic look and feel in the office, and attracted by the possibilities offered by extensive use of ply in construction – now that ply is widely accepted as an attractive as well as functional material.”

Fortified framework

Peter happily admits to being influenced by glue-lam beams as seen on Channel 4’s Grand Designs, and the realisation that these were more rigid than steel beams.

“That’s how I conceived the idea of table legs and frames manufactured entirely from ply, using steel only for corner brackets and the associated embedded bolts in the legs.”

According to Peter: “Designing the structure in this way creates tables that are a) very rigid, b) very easy to assemble and dismantle, and c) produced to any desired length with individual spans as wide as 2.5m. Ply also offers the advantage of being both a sustainable and recyclable material, so we can specify FSC or PEFC board.”

The idea takes shape

Using a 35mm ply for the legs, shaping them and adding a radius to the external profile creates an interesting and distinctive aesthetic. At the same time, this allows for the side faces of the legs to be veneered or laminated, creating a palette extending to any commercially available finishes.

“Legs are cut on our factory’s CNC machines from sheets of ply already veneered or laminated,” he explains, “and cutting patterns are devised to maximise the number of legs cut from each sheet, with minimal waste. Overall, the thick ply legs offer many advantages, both functional and environmental, over the solid hardwood legs more commonly used for such applications.

“While the original leg design flares outwards, I’ve also designed a straight variant that maximises knee room and expands the range with the addition of practical matching desks.”

A further extension of the Ligni look and feel comes from fitting matching ply feet to a number of Sven’s soft seating collections – such as Clarity, ScreenD and the new LOFA SOFA – instantly expanding the range into other areas. “We’ve also developed a matching Ligni Lounge chair and several additional storage elements,” Peter reveals.

Tiptop tops

Peter knows that, functionally, the framework can support pretty much any top: “but I wanted to use 18mm sheets as this offers the widest range of competitively-prices finish choices. While 25mm tops are commonly used in office furniture, many 25mm MFC finishes are only available for bulk orders of one or two full packs. By comparison, 18mm MFC is widely available by the sheet from wholesalers.”

“Furthermore,” he points out, “interesting and trending new finishes – such as our new soft-touch PerfectSense (on an MDF core) – are only available in 18mm. Overall, 18mm tops mean that we can offer both a wide standard palette of finishes, plus pretty much any commercially available finish to special request, without any need for minimum order quantities.”

On the edge

Although 18mm tops offer so many advantages, an 18mm edge is neither fish nor fowl: not thick enough to convey solidity, and not thin enough to be elegant: “I therefore specified a thinned edge: a process we developed where a thicker board is undercut to create a visual 10mm edge.”

This process poses some challenges with MFC boards, as it exposes the rough-textured core of the chipboard. Sven has devised a proprietary method of coating this exposed material to create a smooth finish, which is what we use on Ligni tops.

Sven offers both matching and contrasting edges on the tops, but additionally a 3D acrylic faux ply edge that is both remarkably realistic and avoids creating a visual frame around the top, as the top of the edging is transparent.


“In mapping out the detail of the range I allowed for the integration of a variety of cable management options: cable ports, hinged flaps, lift-out tiles, as well as both pop-up and flip-top sockets, plus vertical cable management via matching timber power towers.”

Not satisfied at leaving it there, Peter also introduced a further discreet cable management solution that allows cables to be routed up the inside of a leg. One or more legs can include this feature, as desired.


Manufactured completely in-house at our West Midlands factory, all processes involved in the production of Ligni dovetail neatly with existing production capability, so production can be scaled up easily to meet rising demand: including stitching and laying our own veneers, pressing laminates, cutting and routing the ply legs and frames, and a spray shop for finishing veneer components.

“Finally,” says Peter, “I should mention the cost-effectiveness of this contemporary and stylish design. Due to the simplicity of construction, the small number of components and the relatively low cost of materials used, plus our ability to manufacture efficiently, means we bring Ligni to market at prices significantly lower than competitors approaching the same sector.”

Now what’s not to love about that!

For more about Ligni – or how our other classic and contemporary office furniture ranges can help create the perfect work environment – simply  check out our website, drop us a line or call our friendly Customer Service team on 01384 400120.