When you are creating either a piece of furniture or a wood object and not following a pre-determined plan, a design will need to be established. I hardly ever work from plans. The design process typically begins with an idea hatched in my mind and is then transferred to a sketch pad. The idea might have originated from a shape I have seen, the need for a particular object or a furniture piece with certain design criteria, or simply an idea hatched on a whim. The basis of the design process is coming up with a good design. What is it about a design that make it a success? Is it the aesthetics of the piece, the pleasing proportions, the balance of form and function... or all these characteristics combined?
Taking a step back, the aesthetics and pleasing proportions are definitely at the forefront. I'm usually drawn to a piece of furniture or object that stands out with respect to the "look" of the piece. This one characteristic causes me to stop and further examine the piece by trying to understand what has drawn me to this particular design. This analysis aids my design process as I better understand what characteristics of an object or piece of furniture I am drawn to. We all have different styles of furniture that we are drawn to, but the common theme is good design. My favorite style of furniture is modern and contemporary. Typically even an admirer of period styles of furniture will stop at a well-designed modern piece of furniture to further analyze it.
We've all heard the saying that everything has already been discovered or invented. I have even heard of this saying applied to furniture design. After all, we're re-shaping the same objects over and over... adding curves, changing proportions, adding ornamentation, removing the ornamentation, using darker or lighter woods, utilizing curves, replacing curves with straight lines, utilizing thicker or thinner components, etc. It is easy to come to this conclusion, however, I regularly see new pieces of furniture or decorative wood objects that make me sit back and say "wow, that is an interesting, unique design".. or "that is a cool design, I wonder if it's been done before". In light of this, the boundaries of design are limitless, one just needs to think outside the box. Also, I feel that often using pre-existing styles as templates for a new design sometimes handicaps the designer, where the designer subconsciously has the existing style in mind and cannot get past it. Sometimes it is better to begin with a clean slate, in my case, hatch an idea then transfer it to pad and pencil and begin to sketch it without being influenced by pre-existing designs.