Walking through the Nine-month classroom I am reminded that there are many different ways to approach a design brief. In the last 5 weeks each student designed and built a furniture piece with curved elements. Collectively they have created a fine body of work which includes a lawyer’s standing desk, coffee and side tables, hall and sofa tables, a wall cabinet, and a gentleman’s valet. In addition to steam and laminate bending, students explored other curve-forming techniques like coopering and kerf cutting. I’m sure there is a mix of relief, satisfaction, and accomplishment when the wood bends without breaking, when the vacuum press closes before the glue sets, or when there is minimal spring back when the clamps come off the form.
Projects in Progress
The last four weeks of the Twelve-week Intensive are dedicated to curvature. With freedom from the confines of the straight line, students' design vocabulary become practically unlimited. However, with the gift of openness comes the dilemma of choice. Consequently, this final project requires a great deal of experimentation and editing. Curves add both conceptual and aesthetic complexity, and as such, students learn to be both proactive and reactive in their process.
With solid wood design and construction under their belts, the Nine-month Comprehensive students are now being introduced to a whole new world of design opportunity. Veneer allows us to create work which doesn't require accommodation for wood movement. The ability to work with veneer can expand a furniture maker's aesthetic vocabulary exponentially; however, like learning a new medium, such expansion requires an entirely new set of skills.
The Nine-month Comprehensive students have executed some really complex case work in the past couple of months. Here are some images of the finished (or nearly finished) pieces:
Having acquired new skills with hand tools and machines, the Nine-month Comprehensive students have moved to their next project: to create a solid-wood case piece with drawers and doors. Currently they are going through an in-depth design process involving drawings, models, and full-scale mock-ups, as well as pertinent lectures on the necessary mechanics and strategies. Check back soon to see their progress.