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

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