I’ve spent time recently sketching some new designs for furniture. What I like to do is put pencil to paper and just let the creative juices flow. Ideas beget ideas and the iterative process of fleshing out an appealing furniture design begins. Some of these ideas will be technically challenging but I don’t let these details get in the way of the initial sketching. The existing skill set of a furniture maker can influence the designs they create. I strive to avoid this influence and instead concentrate on the design aspect. The skills and knowledge needed can be seen as a challenge, but maybe this is what drives us to be better furniture makers. Staying in the comfort zone of creating work you are technically familiar can keep you from developing new skills and knowledge.
I’m not going to get into these particular designs as I have yet to draw them in both orthographic and perspective views. I’ll pick and choose from the sketches and continue to render the designs into drawings. Of course, the material comes into play and this can influence the design somewhat. For example, if I intend to use wood with particular graphics on a cabinet door, the dimensions of the material (wood) can limit the size of the door(s) especially if the door is a frameless design. Door size then impacts the width and height of a cabinet.
This brings up the debate about beginning a design with particular wood(s) in mind or to focus purely on the design and worry about materials afterwards. In reality, it is a bit of both, I design with material in mind but somehow work the proportions of the furniture around the availability of this wood. The primary objective, however, is the implementation of the design. Substitute woods can always be acquired if necessary.
Once I’ve finalized the design(s), I move on to creating a maquette for each of the designs; the miniature renderings of the furniture. This part is actually fun and gives a better idea of the proportions and how the individual components of the furniture piece work with and are scaled to one another. In the end, the design of the furniture needs to be in harmony and balanced although not necessarily symmetric in form. With the price of wood nowadays, it becomes increasingly important to get these designs right.