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Thread: Woodworking Design

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    GTA Ontario Canada

    Woodworking Design

    A subject that has been of interest to me for over 35 years has been design. I have been fortunate in life to know two industrial designers and when you see what these guys learn and can create it really makes you desire to step out the box and try something different.

    I came across this site and this publication and thought the content may inspire. The site is the American Hardwoods Export council and its one of their publications. It contains a range of different designs made by a variety of students.

    Then in their news events section i found a designer which may add color to this post in terms of getting at what i am trying to refer to.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    The Gorge Area, Oregon
    On a related note I've been struggling through "Toward an Architecture" by Le Corbusier recently at the recommendation of someone with substantially more design skills than I have.

    Personally I find his general aesthetic to be a bit early Stalinist Soviet for my tastes but he has some very interesting theories on proportion and ratios. Occasionally that appears to ramble off into numbers apparently made up to fit the narrative (specifically his concept of "human" ratios) and he somewhat famously doctored a number of the photographs used in the book to "prove" some of his points so I'm taking it with a wee grain of salt.

    However all that aside it is a useful perspective into one of the more influential principals of design and he certainly passed that influence on in a substantial way to a lot of subsequent designers (both architecturally and not). So its useful to understand why some of the things are designed the way they are.

    There is also the question of what is the goal of the design - the chairs for example have widely disparate aesthetics but the underlying goal set does make it an interesting study. I thought the expected lifespan analysis at the end was pretty interesting. Clearly not all of them were designed to be used as actual chairs (one of the designers notes as much), which raises some questions in my mind.. but designers will design I suppose.

    I'm personally not really "getting" the work by Shafar, to me it feels modernist for the sake of being modernist without an underlying cohesiveness or style. Just IMHO. I could see taking a few elements but overall its a bit to kitsch for my tastes.

    They do have some interesting stuff on the site though... For instance of the designs here are pretty interesting:
    The revolving shed with one "open" face on pg 47,48,49 is actually entirely like some victorian era garden houses, particularly popular in early sanitariums for "taking the air" - I found that design in Volume 2 of "The Practical Woodworker" (circa 1915) some time ago when reading it. Funny how things come around.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    falcon heights, minnesota
    a little too artsy-fartsy for my liking. a lot of leaning on 'what can i get away with' design, but not much practicality.
    benedictione omnes bene

    check out my etsy store, buroviejowoodworking

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    GTA Ontario Canada
    What I think is really cool that I hope is not missed is the fact that the designers are
    a)Using wood and its not all pine or MDF.
    b) Not all males or males with gray hair.
    Its key for the future of woodworking that some light be thrown on these people and that they be promoted.
    Dan I believe design is in the category of art. It should provoke thought. Practicality not necessarily the objective. I mean can anyone explain what was going on in Picasso's head. ??? I don't see his outputs as hot paintings regardless of what the art Illuminati says I should think or pay.

    I just love seeing youngsters and ladies get involved in working real wood and not painting it all or using all MDF.

    Sent from my SGH-I337M using Tapatalk

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    No, not all of SoCal is Los Angeles!
    I've said it before and will again . . . I was lucky enough to be brought up by parents that had an appreciation of a wide variety of styles in many things: music, art, architecture, etc. This means my brother and I were exposed by proximity. Sunday drives (remember those?) would often be to a neighborhood town that had some specific claim on a theme. "Old Town" parts of many neighboring towns had pockets of "things different". My home town of Ontario, California (established by the Chaffey brothers from Ontario, Canada) had wonderful examples of Citrus Empire architecture,

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    Riverside and Redlands did too. Claremont is a college town and has the associated trimmings.

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    Pasadena has the "ultimate bungalows".

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    Palm Springs, San Diego and on and on.

    Now, this doesn't mean it all made its way home with us but, styles from George McCabe to Sam Maloof (he was a local) were all appreciated if not desired. Many of the "pushing the limits" styles of furniture would not find their way into my home but, they trigger ideas in others who may come up with something that I would really want. Like music or any other art, its a journey; don't limit the sites you pass along the way ;-)
    Last edited by glenn bradley; 01-15-2016 at 02:42 PM.
    Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
    - Arthur C. Clarke

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Kansas City, Missouri
    Those are some very out of the box designs for the traditionalist in me, but liked most of them. I spent a good amount of my time in college in the library looking at art books, something I didn't have a lot of access to in HS. Seems I've gotten more and more practical over the years and should probably take a walk on the wild side from time to time.

    To a small child, the perfect granddad is unafraid of big dogs and fierce storms but absolutely terrified of the word “boo.” – Robert Brault

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Yorktown, Virginia
    Love this stuff. I used to wander through the industrial design lab at Syracuse University and struggle with the thought of changing majors. The whole creative process is a joyful experience. It's great to see what today's designers are up to. You can get a glimpse by watching Ellen's design challenge.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Designing is not about making "weard" looking things. Many of the "pushing limits" pieces as Glenn mentions are just that, in designer's jargon are called Image Carriers, sometimes are to promote the designer himself and others to promote a brand or company. Usually they are only one piece to take a few pics and publish them so that attention is drawn.

    On the other hand one should differentiate between "designing" and "styling" and the border between them is difficult to see more often than not.

    To Rob, despite many designs can be regarded as pieces of art, and in fact some of them are exhibited in art museums, when a product is designed, be it a chair, a coffe grinder or a car the aim to fulfill a market need following a briefing where ( if well made) there are clear priorities stated, whether aestics should prevail over production costs or not, wether ease of assembly should prevail over logistic cost among other things, or even wether the product can be produced completely at the owner premises or some pieces have to be outrsourced.

    If we take that market need to fulfill seriously can then we call some designs "art"? When we see some artists repeating the same style of paintings or pieces because those are the ones that sell, can it still be considered art? After all they do it because those are the ones that sell. Michelangelo pieces were comissioned as many of the pieces of thousand of artists. Does art to be considered "art" need to surge from an inner need of the artist to create regardless there is a comission behind it, or not like Van Gogh's paintings?. Why we consider things as art and others not? Putting a shark inside a glass container of formaldehyde and expose it on a gallery is art? Some think yes and some others don't. For the same token why some things are regarded as "desing" and others not? After all, anything that is man made has been tought out (or should I say designed?)by someone with an intention, either to fulfill a function or other, or several at a time...

    THis could be going on and on, like the CNC-Woodworking debate. So I stop now.
    Best regards,

    __________________________________________________ __________________________________________________ _________________
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    I also dream of a shop with north light where my hands can be busy, my soul rest and my mind wander...

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