DAKOTA JACKSON The John Lennon Desk (Detail), 1974

A Look Back At Dakota Jackson's First Custom Desk Designed For John Lennon

The magician-turned-furniture-designer was tasked by Yoko Ono to create a surprise 34th birthday gift for her husband.

by Colby Mugrabi
Apr 23 2019, 8:11pm

DAKOTA JACKSON The John Lennon Desk (Detail), 1974

Take yourself back to the early 1970s, and imagine what transpires when the wife of one of history’s all-time greatest rock stars commissions a young magician-turned-furniture-designer to create a surprise 34th birthday gift for her husband. Now, understand that that wife is Japanese multimedia and performance artist Yoko Ono, the rock star is singer, songwriter and co-founder of the Beatles, John Lennon, and the young artist is a 24-year-old Dakota Jackson. Indeed, what comes of such an astonishing prompt falls nothing short of magic.

In 1974, Dakota received an unsolicited phone call from an unfamiliar yet immediately recognizable voice, that of Yoko Ono, asking him to design a surprise birthday gift for her husband, John Lennon. From that conversation came Dakota Jackson’s first commission, catapulting him on a new career path and crystallizing his future as a maker of objects at the crossroads of magic and furniture.

At the tender age of 24, Jackson – hailing from a celebrated family of trained magicians – was performing magic in galleries and spaces downtown, dancing with the companies of choreographers Laura Dean and Trisha Brown, and appearing in performances at La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club. Despite his early identity as a renaissance man in the performing arts, Dakota took to the design and creation of unique objects and bespoke environments. Living in an affordable loft in downtown New York during a period when young artists were seen customizing their personal living quarters amid highly flexible spaces, Dakota made changes to his own loft and began building for people around the city. At which point his reputation as an artist and magician was superseded, becoming known, instead, as a man who built ‘wonders’.

To see the full story of Jackson's Lennon commission on Minnie Muse click here.