Archive for August, 2008

Designing Furniture

Hello fellow wood/furniture enthusiasts,

In continuation to my previous post on Commissioned Chairs I thought I’d demonstrate my way of going about designing a commission or indeed simply designing a piece of furniture.

In relation to a commission I start by viewing the proposed space for the item to be designed and made. Following this I start filtering through the ideas of the (usually very excited) clients, narrowing down the some what ridiculous list, until I can see a tangible correlation between ideas forming what I foresee to be a good basis to begin my research.

Research I hear some of you saying. Let me put it this way; as my professor stated (something to the likes of): “furniture has been made for thousands of years, to come up with something completely new is relatively impossible. However to refine and better those designs of the past; To look forward to the future and to embrace the past, is the way to success.”

Yes it is important as a designer not to copy what has gone before as this would be the end of creative spirit, and would reduce me to just another ‘cog in the chain’ – a machine of repetition – devoid of individualism and self-growth.

Anyway back to research. So now that I have an idea of the clients needs and wants and I have viewed the area in which the piece is to be placed I turn to the past in order to point me in the right direction for the future. I sometimes feel (well actually nearly always feel) overwhelmed by the requirement as a designer-maker to come up with something ‘new’. Thus through looking at past pieces, which have aspects of the styles fulfilling the clients, and indeed my desires, I begin sketch. The sketching could simply be the piece I am viewing or could be a variation of the article in question, developing a series of ‘thumbnail’ drawings; crisscrossing and interweaving spontaneous ideas of my own to ideas of those before me.

From here it’s a matter of elimination and development of concepts. At some stage I put down the sketchbook and start making models (if I can I also make 1:1 models). It is this combination of research, sketching and model making which leads to a well thought out and refined design. A design which hopefully satisfies my clients and most importantly myself.

A development of ideas

A development of ideas

Advertisements

William Morris

“Everything made by man’s hand has a form, which must
be either beautiful or ugly; beautiful if in accord with nature, ugly if it thwarts her”. William Morris

Commissioned Chairs

Thought i’d put up some images of the scale models I have been making for a commission.

I Upon completion of the two scale 1:10 models I placed them at the corresponding table model. It was clear straight away that there were dimension issues. The chairs seemed too big for the table. As an old country chair perhaps the size would have been ok, however in a modern environment against that table it did not sit well.

The table is quite large so the chairs needed to be adapted to sit in harmony with the table. I hoped to overcome this issue by reducing the chair size attempting to maintain its proportions. From here my colleague designing the table and I decided to produce larger scale (1:75) models. This was in the hope of clarifying the proportion issues.

From this model I realised that by removing the splay from the seat to reduce the size of the chair and reduce the complication of the joinery the chair lost its finesse.  It resulted in the chair looking bulky and bland, loosing its flow and invitation. (The photo is quite flattering though)

Thus there is much more designing required so enough blabber, it’s back to the drawing board.

Walter Gropius

“Art is not a “profession.” There is no essential difference between the artist and the craftsman. The artist is an exalted craftsman. In rare moments of inspiration, moments beyond the control of his will, the grace of heaven may cause his work to blossom into art. But proficiency in his craft is essential to every artist. Therein lies a source of creative imagination.”
“Art is a profession that can be mastered by study. Schooling alone can never produce art….quality cannot be taught and cannot be learned… Manual dexterity(,)… thorough knowledge which is a necessary foundation for all creative effort, whether the workman’s or the artist’s, can be taught and learned.” Walter Gropius

Drop leaf table

During my high school days, I had to produce a final piece for my graduation. This drop leaf table ended up getting me into university so it holds a precious place within me.

Made from African Pencil Cedar, and french polished (quite badly in my ignorance or lack of knowledge).

Piero Fornasetti

“The return of decoration, specifically the embellishment of surface, has been one of the most conspicuous characteristics of design in the last decade (being the 1980’s). This tendency represents a distinctly anti-modernist stance, rejecting previously inviolable prohibitions against ornament, historical naturalistic reference, and non-functional form…” Piero Fornasetti

It’s an interesting observation. As you may have noticed from my other quotes i’m a bit of a traditionalist in heart. However as a woody in todays society it pays (,in dollars to,) to be flexable in what you design and produce. At the end of the day you have to eat and pay the bills.