Monday, March 21, 2011

Dynamic design...

Over the past two years,I have come to use a new term in my design philosophy. The term, "dynamic design", allows me to modify a design to adapt to circumstances, for either technical considerations, or for purely aesthetic reasons. This is a term I have coined to describe how design doesn't necessarily need to be cast in stone but instead can be modified as a project progresses. The changes I refer to can be either subtle changes or large scale changes. One of the meanings for the word "dynamic" from the American Heritage Dictionary.

dy·nam·ic - Characterized by continuous change, activity, or progress.

As my wood art or studio furniture is being handcrafted, sometimes the design I originally envisioned can be improved at different stages, or the original design can remain as is. Having this flexibility provides a continuous excitement for the wood artist or studio furniture maker along with the benefit of improvising on the original design after seeing the wood art at various intermediary stages. An excellent example is the hall table design in my previous posts. I had chosen to invert the base of the table for both aesthetic and technical reasons. Not to say the original design of the maquette would not have worked, inverting it just simplifies a design dilemma for me and introduces a new aesthetic to the piece. After creating the maquette, I realize I needed to have a fairly stable, strong sub-base to be able to support the V-shaped arch, whereas inverting the base utilizes the points of the arches as legs. Often, we become fixated on a particular design and don't bother seeking out alternatives which often stare us right in the face.

Case in point, I have been creating a new design for a smaller wood object, and as part of my philosophy I strive to use as many materials in my possession as possible, without continuously sourcing new material for the components. Working with material at hand sometimes limits what I can do, but on the other hand challenges me to work within certain constraints, in this case certain materials. So here I have an instance of what I like to call "dynamic design", sometimes the beauty of a design is also in its simplicity. Simplicity is one of the tenets of the minimalism philosophy. I have to admit that I am a fan of "minimalism", and have read one book on the subject so far. You tend to gain a different perspective on design after being exposed to the philosophy of minimalism.

Sunday, March 20, 2011


I have the panels for the two cabinets ready for trimming now. They have been hand planed and scraped to a polished texture. This is a step I like to complete before beginning the assembly process as it is much simpler with the panels separate. The individual panels are marked and stacked to correspond to one of the two cabinets. I also fit the stopped rabbet to the back edges of the side panels to confirm the depth of the rabbet on both the top, bottom and sides are uniform. Fitting is to confirm all the panels are square to each other and the side panels are correctly set back in the top and bottom panels.

This part is important to not have any problems with wind in the doors. If, for example, the front edge of one side panel is slightly deeper than the other side panel, the front doors will need to be skewed a little and this is something to avoid, unless absolutely necessary. In the photo at left I am trimming the front edge of this side panel to have it exactly as wide as the other side panel to avoid any issues with the front edge of the sides that meet the front doors not being coplanar. Next I re-assemble the cabinets and begin fitting the doors to the cases. You will notice I take precautions and always sticker all the panels to prevent any possibility of warping due to uneven exposure to ambient air.