Desert Island Desk with Levent Çaglar

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Levent Çaglar is the Chief Ergonomist at FIRA International (Furniture Industry Research Association) and renowned for achieving practical solutions to design conundrums. He collaborates with designers to create iconic furniture, such as the Aeron chair and Virgin Upper Class cabin interior. He works with architects, interior designers and facilities managers to design workplace layouts and select furniture. He represents the UK on many European and international standards committees. Here’s what he would take to our desert island.

My telescope

Since being mesmerised by jewel-like shooting stars and the Milky Way when sleeping on a countryside roof terrace as a child, I have always enjoyed looking at the sky. Over 30 years ago, I made my own telescope, grinding the 150mm mirror then making the 1,200mm tube, castings and tripod. So, I would keep my beloved telescope with me in a place where I’ll have a great view deep into space, back in time and can marvel at the beauty and design of the universe. I could also see if any boats were passing – and set off a flare!

Thonet rocking chair
One of my passions is seeking out furniture designs where form and function are combined beautifully. This chair is one I love and reminds me of marvelling at Thonet’s ingenuity when I saw all the originals in his museum in Boppard. What would be better than relaxing in the shade on the desert island gently rocking on this Thonet bentwood chair with a breeze cooling me, including through the cane seat and backrest.

Wind-up shortwave radio
I have always been interested in keeping abreast of what goes on in the rest of the world. I want to hear the news from a country’s own perspective then make my own judgment in deciphering real news from propaganda. As a child, I found out all sorts of things by listening to shortwave radio and could still do this on the desert island, even without power, by using a wind-up radio. It would give me a sustainable link to the rest of the world and to humankind.

Dutch oven
Cooking is one of my ways of getting rid of stress. I enjoy creating and sometimes improvising many different Turkish dishes I learned from my mother. I also enjoy good and healthy food from different cuisines of the world. On the desert island, I will have lots of time to use the Dutch oven over a flame or buried like an oven to help me experiment with what food stuff I manage to find.

Espresso pot and Lavazza coffee
One thing I must always have, especially after a meal, is a very good strong coffee. There is nothing like a good espresso. When I am travelling, one of the challenges is to find where I can get a good espresso. Have you ever tried getting a decent espresso, or any strong coffee, in rural USA? So, I really cannot survive without the traditional Italian espresso pot with plenty of coffee – if possible Lavazza.

Sunflower seeds
Sunflowers are bright, large and pretty, like the sun. Just like sunlight, they make me feel happy and smile. I am fascinated with the way they respond to sun so quickly – as soon as it starts raining they quickly bow their heads, but the moment the sun comes out they look up again. So, I am hoping to create my own sunflower fields from the seeds I will have. They will brighten up my days on the island and, as a bonus, I will have an endless supply of sunflower seeds to eat, reminding me of something I did a lot in my younger days.

All Marx Brothers films
Every time I see Marx Brothers films, I laugh at the incredible lines, acting and timing. Cigar-smoking Groucho hopelessly trying to flirt, Harpo with his horn and harp, Chico trying to be cheeky and wise at the same time – what a combination, and all in black and white. If I get depressed on the island, these films could do the trick!