Rare Mumenthaler and Meyer 'Magic Box'
A rare office in a cupboard with a retractable desk and drawer and multiple shelves for documents and books.
This 1928 "Magic Box" design by Swiss avant garde architects Otto Meyer and Eric Mumenthaler, became popular in the 1950's and 60's when mid-century modern sensibilities became a lifestyle in the cities of Europe and America.
It was manufactured in Germany, the UK, Yugoslavia, Norway and even Taiwan, as is derived from the few copies that remain with a maker's mark.
Most examples of these pieces have a built-in lamp (there are three versions) and although the whole cabinet is solid wood (mostly teak or rosewood), the retractable desk has a veneered finish.
Out piece is different. Firstly it has no lamp. The wood seems to be elm, or dark oak, and the table top is solid wood. It has a hardly legible maker's mark on which "R.L. Lev... Guaranteed" can be made out. No reference of this can be found anywhere and our guess is that this is one of the very early versions of the "Magic Box". We know that it belonged to a restorer in then Rhodesia, many decades ago, who sadly passed before he could finish restoration on it. It seems as if some of the hinges could have been replaced by him.
We decided not to attempt any restoration, as it is still sturdy and a perfect small office and has such amazing character. We gently cleaned and oiled the wood.
Condition: Used vintage, with lovely patina. The two doors do not perfectly line up vertically. It has no lock, but the doors do not swing open. The bottom plank of one of the shelves broke.
Dimensions: 53 x 82 x 113 cm (when closed) and 165 cm (w) when fully open.
* Mumenthaler and Meyer made name in 1927, when they won "Das Neue Heim" award for modernist furniture with a design of minimalist wardrobe aimed at functionality and the sparse use of materials. In the 30's and 40's, this duo mostly worked as architects in the city of Basel.