I'm in the design phase of a couple of small household projects (TV and
Phonograph stands), but I wanted to design something unique. At the
library I was in the furniture history section and thumbed through a
dozen books or so, but nothing really struck me as a good source for
What do you regularly look at for ideas? Architectural Digest, FWW,
what? I'd love to have some better sources for printed material to mine
Anything and everything. Stuff you like. Stuff you don't like.
Any of the woodworking magazines, from newbie to advanced.
Thrift stores or other places where various styles can be
Do a derivation design. Wait for inspiration. Keep looking.
but the edge is still Out there. Or maybe it's In... HST (1967)
when i got to the edge , i built a deck % (2005)
I love the design side. You can't have good ideas every week, probably only
one good idea a year for someone like me so you are right you need a
technique for getting inspiration. I have two routes into this problem:
First is to think about materials, tools and techniques. An elegant method
of construction makes an elegant piece. You might be considering the
properties of the wood or the decorative grain. You might be considering
laminating versus steam bending, available tooling and what you can do with
it, a method of jointing, whatever, but a bit like form following function
if you can make the form, the function and the method of making hang
together you have the foundation of good design.
Second, in my work there is the question of aesthetics and the visual
vocabulary. In simple terms this is looking at the past and re-using
historical design. It might be architectural references, it might not, it
might be a shape, a line, a moulding, a pattern, a stain, a pegged joint, a
veneer, whatever, but you find it I think by looking at old things. There
are some good old manuals of ornament (Meyer or Owen Jones) there are old
paintings, there are museums and their websites, there are old catalogues
and of course the library too. It's important to remember you are not just
looking at furniture, but all arts and crafts across the board for ideas
that might translate into furniture from say architecture, boat-building,
here is a FANTASTIC online collection of design resources including a
complete Owen Jones Grammar of Ornament.
Google, click on the images link. and search on, candle stand, dresser,
tressle or whatever is close to what you want to make.
Save the pics of the items that have a detail or a form that you like, them
try to coelesse them into a form that you find pleasing.
The idea is not simply to rip something off that looks good. The idea is to
identify the design elements that appeal to *you* and to help you generate a
"list" of features, be they functional, structural or aesthetic, that you
would like to incorporate into your own design.
Since those are "functional" designs you can only do so much anyway...
as far as flights of fancy go.
Learn about the design ratios -- and much will be reveraled about the
proportions off objects that you see...
Root 2: 1.41 to 1 --> 1.41:1 (or divide by .707)
Golden Mean (rati, triangle etc) : 1.62 to 1 --> 1.62:1 (dived by .62)
123 : 1:2:3 proportions(1 high 2 deep 3 wide)
Small Tables 20" to 24" high etc. Boring but true -- as are many other
functional aspects of furniture.
Measure some furniture that you already have. Think about the
"constraints" that are imposed upon you by the human form -- i.e.
making the stuff usefull to a "normally" proportioned human. Or maybe
even to _your_ abnormal proportions if need be.
_Then_ go looking at designs and it should give you a fresh perspective
on what works, what doesn't and what might.
Next start thinking about how you like modern, vs mission (arts and
crafts), country, vs french vs baroque (rococco) etc...
Check out the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) site of you can -- or visit
similar. (see my links page). If (things like) the ROM displays do not
inspire you -- one way or the other -- I can't help you. :-)
Have fun and make something weird today.
Typically magazines, but rarely woodworking ones. Most often of the ilk of
"American Bungalow", but even been known to steal and design idea from
catalogs like Ethan Allan's.
I have a file folder with twenty years worth of torn out magazine/catalog
pictures of things I'd like to do "one of these days".
Thu, Dec 29, 2005, 10:31pm (EST-3) email@example.com (hylourgos)
wanders in a daze and asks:
<snip> What do you regularly look at for ideas? Architectural Digest,
FWW, what? I'd love to have some better sources for printed material to
mine for inspiration.
Rarely, or never, any of those. I would say mostly by just sitting
down and thinking about what I want. Sometimes in the library (mine),
and sometimes not. Next I would say google, especially google images.
I do google searches probabl daily, and usually several - which is how
I'm slowly developing the design for a bed for myself. And, a couple of
times, I've asked my 6 yo grand-dau, and got ideas that worked. Use
your mind and imagination, asking people is a last resort.
Right now I'm in the middle of a vehicle project. I've asked other
people a few, very few, quesitons on technical aspects, but mostly I
figured them out on my own - I don't try to reinvent the wheel tho.
And, if I'd asked anyone about any of the design aspects, they'd have
either told me it could not be done, or that "I" could not do it - and
they were so wrong.
Bottom line, do what pleases you, after all, it's your time and
money - unless you're doing it for someone else. And, it ain't rocket
science. Plans? Plans? Don' need no steenkin' plans.
You'll never get anywhere if you believe what you "hear".
What do you "know"?
- Granny Weatherwax
The guy who goes by the handle of "J T" has provided links to inspire
more than a few visitors to this newsgroup.
Aw shucks, I didn't fall for a troll, did I?
Dunno. But "J T" is a good bloke just the same.
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