How do you design a piece of furniture? For George Nelson furniture design was about solving the problems of domestic life effectively and without regard for style. For George Nakashima it was about preserving what he called “the soul of the tree.” Completely different sensibilities, but for both men the design process emanated from one clear idea. They knew (and could articulate) exactly what they cared about, which is pretty rare. I hate them.
My furniture is not driven by a singular idea (not yet anyway) but I’ll start posting about some of the ways I have approached designing furniture so far. Here’s the first…
ADAPTATION (from industrial materials to wood)
I designed this table when a client asked me to adapt the Jean Prouve refectory table for solid wood. Prouve’s table is made of steel, melamine and linoleum. Adapting it for wood immediately introduces a problem: wood moves. It expands and contracts, particularly over wide expanses like a table top. If your base does not allow the table top to grow and shrink then either the top will crack or the joint between the apron and the leg will pop open — something’s gotta give. My solution was a to split the apron in half and insert a spline to fill the gap. This allows for the top and the base to expand and contract in unison up to 3/4″ in both directions. While the table’s lines are unabashedly taken from the Prouve original, I think it becomes it’s own thing when adapted for wood. A sort of modernist farm table.