At the start of the pandemic, a group of nine international designers were asked to create a table and seat for their own homes from a choice of sustainable American hardwood. The pieces were made by Benchmark and exhibited at the Design Museum in London in September 2020. Nordic Pioneer is Danish designer Maria Bruun’s response to the brief. Made entirely in maple, the collection offers a masterclass in Nordic design. With a purity to both the seating and to the gate-leg table, the pieces are intentionally pared back, to let the materials and construction do the talking. The desk functions as a private space for work and reflection but can fold out and guests can join in the space by sitting on the stools when required. Its defining feature is its wooden hinges. Components for the hinge are turned and drilled to within a fraction of a millimetre, to ensure a smoothness of movement. The doughnut foot detail at the bottom of the legs presented a hurdle for the workshop. Spacing between the legs must accommodate the feet, which challenges the geometry of a hinge. Stackable stools with rounded seat pads, machined from solid maple celebrate the choice of timber. At shortlisting, the judges were particularly interested in the design of the stools.