Passion Of Furniture

Passion Of Furniture

I see a lot of boring designs out there.

The quality is excellent, the workmanship is flawless, but the end result is just blah – an exercise in beige.

It takes a large amount of time from your life to make a piece of furniture. It doesn’t matter if the piece reflects good design or bad, it takes the same time to make, so why would you waste time making a boring piece.

There are maybe two or three designer/makers out there that I really admire, stretching the parameters of design, thinking out of the box – no pun intended.
I strive to teach my students that high-end shoppers look for something different, something that cannot be bought at local stores. They search in galleries and have designers look for them in studios, all in the quest for that special piece.

If they go to a gallery and there are six pieces of furniture to choose from and the first five are blah, blah, blah but the last one is WOW, then that is the piece to strive for when making these studio pieces.

The potential buyer needs to see something that lifts their spirit and make their heart beat a little faster. It has to be something special, something different – not just a box on legs. It has to have soul, the maker’s soul, in the piece. It has to sing to both the maker and the buyer.

If you had only time to make five pieces of furniture in the rest of your life, what would you make? boring? beige, blah blah? Or something that will be looked at in three hundred years and still be admired?

I have made furniture based on similar pieces from the seventeenth and eighteenth century, these pieces are still around and still give people pleasure. They still look fabulous – they always will. That is why we have a vibrant antique’s market.

I want to teach that to my students. The quality of some of these old pieces left a lot to be desired, but the designs are timeless.

This is what students need to learn: what does it take to break away from the boring boxes and squiggly legged chairs that we see every day and create something that will be admired in the future? Do you think most of the stuff we see today will still be around in six hundred years? I don’t think so. Only the very special pieces are still with us today because they were – and still are – respected and loved.

Craftsmanship is important, but that comes with time and experience. Like a fine artist, if the fundamentals are taught correctly from the beginning, you will always have those skills.

Design is different. It is difficult. We are influenced every day by the stuff we see around us.

The furniture of the past was designed with its base in architecture. I think a lot of today’s pieces have lost that advantage. We still think of boxes, squares, rectangles, and, now and then, some circles or flowing “organic” lines, but nothing as daring as some of the major architects’ accomplishments out there.

I love textures, grains, shapes, and colors. You have to try and imagine what will look good in ten, twenty, fifty, one hundred or three hundred years from now – it has to be timeless.

Humans are visual and tactile beings. They need to be attracted by the look of it, and to touch and feel surfaces, textures and grains. Two things sell furniture: sight and touch.

Furniture making is a cross between function and art. You can’t hang it on the wall and if it’s too swooshy and out there, you can’t put your socks in it.

So, in summing up design and functionality, let’s say a client wants a chest of drawers to keep their clothes in. That’s easy: a box with drawers in it. That’s the functional side. How do we make it different looking from all the other boxes out there: square edges or live edges, plain or textured, striking or invisible, beige or red, subtle or in your face?

All of these issues play an important role in your design. Personally, I am tired of smooth, flat finishes and square edges. I believe it is time for something else: curves, subtle exploration of grain lines and edges that follow grain patterns, colors (and I don’t mean aniline dyes, I mean different wood colors and types) marquetry, parquetry, carved surfaces, sandblasted surfaces, etched surfaces and more.

That is what we hope to teach here. I want this school to produce the furniture makers of the future. I want these students to be sought after. I want them working for the collectors of fine art and I want their pieces to be admired over the next three hundred years and more.

That’s my dream for this school: to produce museum quality furniture makers and furniture pieces for the future.

My own stuff? I’m already working on it.

One Commment

  1. Robert Dickson says:

    Jimmy, I just stumbled on your new school website. I am so happy to see that you are doing well and that the school is up and running in what looks like an awesome shop. I would love to catch up sometime and find out about the journey life has taken you over the last number of years. I hope that you are doing well
    Your friend,
    Rob “Robbie” Dickosn

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