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What Has Become of Furniture Design?

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Forum topic by poopiekat posted 04-11-2022 03:15 PM 1214 views 0 times favorited 32 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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poopiekat

5172 posts in 5227 days


04-11-2022 03:15 PM

Well, okay, first off, I’ll admit that I’m getting old.

Having said that, I’m just really disturbed by what I see in the April issue of FWW.

In the ‘Reader’s Gallery’ section is a showing of award winners from a recent presentation of furniture makers.
Although I am reluctant to criticize anyone’s work, I see a lot of improbable designs. Some with odd, unconventional proportions, some with joinery that looks like it will fail under severe usage, and other creations that just look clumsy in appearance IMO.

What am I missing here? Has the state of the art furniture become so abstract that I no longer recognize it? Does new furniture have to be so avante-garde to gain acceptance within the artsy interior decorating community?

Or is it just that I live in my own bubble, my peer pressure pushing me for achievement in classical designs rather than exploring the non-traditional mindset? I’m sourcing out materials and veneers for an 18th century bonnet top highboy. Should I just hang it up and make something weird, asymmetrical, ungainly and odd-looking, and wait for a reaction?

How do you feel about the turning taste in modern furniture? I want to know.

-- Einstein: "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." I'm Poopiekat!!


32 replies so far

View Lazyman's profile

Lazyman

9760 posts in 2880 days


#1 posted 04-11-2022 03:40 PM

If you don’t like the more eclectic designs no reason that you have to conform. Just do what makes you happy. Nothing really new here. I think that the old adage that beauty is in the eye of the beholder holds here as in any art form. People who experiment will always push the edges to express their own view of beauty. Sometimes it is cool and sometimes it may seem odd but that is what art is really. Expressing ones own vision in whatever medium they use. Even with things that look odd, impractical or even unusable to me, I can still appreciate the craftsmanship that goes into making it.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

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Madmark2

3485 posts in 2080 days


#2 posted 04-11-2022 03:42 PM

No accounting for taste. Everyone strives to be “different”, so traditional is out. Compare to the 1930’s Art Deco movement. That stuff looked wild. Furniture styles are like neckties, fads come and go but quality lasts.

-- The hump with the stump and the pump!

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BlasterStumps

2410 posts in 1932 days


#3 posted 04-11-2022 04:07 PM

Well stated. Succinct.


If you don t like the more eclectic designs no reason that you have to conform. Just do what makes you happy. Nothing really new here. I think that the old adage that beauty is in the eye of the beholder holds here as in any art form. People who experiment will always push the edges to express their own view of beauty. Sometimes it is cool and sometimes it may seem odd but that is what art is really. Expressing ones own vision in whatever medium they use. Even with things that look odd, impractical or even unusable to me, I can still appreciate the craftsmanship that goes into making it.

- Lazyman


-- "I build for function first, looks second. Most times I never get around to looks." MIke in CO

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MJCD

628 posts in 3863 days


#4 posted 04-14-2022 01:03 AM

Interesting perspective….

Certainly, there are styles that become a fad for some number of years… we call these Mission, Art Deco or Mid-Century Modern, or something else; and we get into a rut of everyone making some version of these styles. Then we have fads around specific types of furniture: IMO there are far too many “Maloof-inspired Rocking Chairs”; and too many others making styles honed by a long-dead creative genius… as if we can tap into that genius simply by replicating the design. If it is the shop-time you’re looking for… copy someone else’s design; personally, I don’t do that anymore.

That said, I think there are two important types of furniture builders: those that see the design process as an art-form; and those that make serious quality furniture for function and usage. Both serve the craft well.

I’ve never been a fan of FWW’s Gallery; though, interestingly, I was looking at the April edition today. It is not work that I would build; but many look at my work, and wonder what medication I’m taking – certainly, my wife thinks I should sell my equipment and take up something useful.

I’m not trying to pick a fight – I do believe that too many of us are thinking alike.

and some new take on box-joints or Miss

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JCamp

1790 posts in 2043 days


#5 posted 04-14-2022 02:13 AM

No clue what it is since I don’t have any subscriptions but most things modern are not my taste. But I still like square body chevys that could be worked on without an advanced degree. I suppose in a perfect world everyone would build what they wanted regardless of what others thought or even wanted. So in that manner don’t you live in a perfect world getting to build what your heart (or wife) desires? Some designs are classic for a reason but I’ve built a few things that have brought me a lot of joy even though they were extremely simple and probably no one else would care for them.

-- Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all thy might

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Aj2

4492 posts in 3290 days


#6 posted 04-14-2022 02:26 AM

What I see in society or area I live in is people are into disposable things.
The heirloom furniture isn’t something that has any value to new families. Nor is anyone with a dinner table that works fine looking to replace it with a new one. Made by me or you.
Sam maloof furniture is considered a investment. The city I live in has one in storage not for using mostly for bragging rights. I say whoopty doo.
I try to make stuff that people want to use or need. If they are afraid to use it because it might get scratched I have failed.
Good Luck. Everyone stay frosty and keep your power dry.

-- Aj

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Madmark2

3485 posts in 2080 days


#7 posted 04-14-2022 02:35 AM

I do my all designs from scratch. I design what I can make. I design what I need. I design what I like. I intentionally try NOT to copy. I draw my own plans, I don’t use other peoples plans (except for the architect drawing for the spec on a job).

-- The hump with the stump and the pump!

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MJCD

628 posts in 3863 days


#8 posted 04-14-2022 11:51 PM

What I like is that no one, including my family, tells me what to build or how to design. I get an itch, or a request that I like, then I build to that itch.
For my last piece, which is a Rocker-prototype, I designed it while I built it… a crazy thing to do. But I didn’t ask anyone if they like the design; and no one took the time to point out the mistakes I made (I’m sufficiently critical of my work to have found all of the issues). Certainly, I wish my woodworking skills were better – I simply make too many mistakes; and I struggle to translate what is in my head to what results from my hands.

Everyone, Do Take Care… stay creative, extend your skills. And hats-off to those trying their level-best to build beautiful things… the world needs more of you!

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CWWoodworking

2401 posts in 1671 days


#9 posted 04-15-2022 02:39 AM

The majority still buy traditional designs. There has always been eccentric designs.

It would be a pretty boring world if everyone built only traditional designs.

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CaptainKlutz

5739 posts in 2986 days


#10 posted 04-15-2022 03:35 AM

How do you feel about the turning taste in modern furniture? I want to know. – poopiekat
Design taste is just like food preferences. No need to worry about: as it changes often, is usually practical, and sometimes radical. :-(0)

IMHO – Current furniture trends are targeted towards busy younger generation that just needs functional furniture quickly. Has to be cheap, then easy to build-clean-move. These needs align with simple Danish Modern styles. For which I blame the heavy IKEA exposure of the newest generation of wood workers.

Think about it: When was last time you drug your kids into a real furniture store or furniture design gallery; shopping for a new living room or dining room furniture? Last shopping trip was likely looking for big couch or recliners to park in front of the big screen TV, or disposable bed side table for kids; right?

It is not until folks get older, and have more disposable income; that they are willing to spend more for more substantial and artistic pieces. My tastes changed over time. Before kids, everything was practical. I lived in a work shop with attached kitchen & bedroom; regardless of the home design. When kids entered my life, everything had to be hard to destroy. As kids got older, became less worried about damage and considered making fancy pieces with carvings, or elaborate molding work. But even as my tastes changed, I never trusted most of the skinny legged modern French ‘Provincial’ designs. I prefer French Baroque, so it don’t get broke. Will never get away from the need to withstand my 250lb, 6’6” tall son or one his football team members sitting on it. :-)

Cheers!

-- If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all, Doom, despair, agony on me… - Albert King - Born Under a Bad Sign released 1967

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azwoodworker

95 posts in 3274 days


#11 posted 04-15-2022 04:15 AM

I design a number of My own pieces to use and sell and I like to design with curves and forms in mind based on what wood I am using to create a punch with grain. However, the form should follow the function, otherwise, it is an art, not furniture. As a woodworker looking at work and pieces to get inspiration I wholeheartedly agree with your statement “some with joinery that looks like it will fail under severe usage, and other creations that just look clumsy in appearance IMO.” If it will not perform the function or last long it is really not furniture. I built sets and other creative items for shows for years that are up and beautiful and then gone forever after the show and all you have is pictures. Not meant to last anyway. My goal in furniture is definitely to design and build pieces that will last for centuries because it is durable and loved enough to be taken care of. I am sure I have not achieved that level yet but still an ideal to shoot for. It takes real-time to build quality pieces, even simple designs have their effort.

Sometimes I get people who just want me to build something but it won’t last based on their ask and or the worst “just slap something together for me”. I’ll pass. Obviously, we are on different pages I finally got through my head. “Just” can be a terrible word.

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SMP

5385 posts in 1398 days


#12 posted 04-15-2022 04:48 AM



The majority still buy traditional designs. There has always been eccentric designs.

It would be a pretty boring world if everyone built only traditional designs.

- CWWoodworking

Yeah i usually go to woodworking shows at the state fair etc. there are always traditional categories and then the wilder stuff. The crazier designs are cool to look at, priced like art, and generally bought by people with oversized homes that buy them more as art decorations than functional furniture. So I think as to whether the joinery will hold up is a moot point unless you are the one that is going to buy it and intend to use it. Personally i just go to look and appreciate all of the different designs.

View Eric's profile

Eric

5740 posts in 1365 days


#13 posted 04-15-2022 11:08 AM

I like to design my own projects, and I think about the process and my skills to accomplish the build. Not into the ikea stuff. I like more traditional style that will hold up and be passed on. In my designs I will borrow aspects of what has worked and preformed.

Years ago I build a TV stand which also served as storage our all of the gaming consoles (kids). My own design, borrowed aspects of a classic chest of drawers, using rails and styles in a frame an panel construction. The joints were tight enough where I could put the carcus together like a puzzle on the the bench, and see what changes were needed. It turned out to be a great piece, not sure what ex has done with it.

Point being, build what you want in your style.

-- Eric, building the dream. the "Loft"

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ChuckV

3517 posts in 5019 days


#14 posted 04-15-2022 12:44 PM

Despite what may have become of Woody Allen, this short scene from Sleeper is still pertinent to the subject at hand:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H4ZBPz4DinU

-- "Join the chorus if you can. It'll make of you an honest man." - I. Anderson

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tvrgeek

2403 posts in 3141 days


#15 posted 04-15-2022 01:13 PM

I find, like architecture, furniture design has been worked out into several styles over the centuries that function as well as being pleasing. I read a book on the history of furniture, going from a log through box into tables, chairs, and chests. Then how cultural influences were added as time and technology increased the options. Think about styles like Shaker. By cultural rules, no extra ornamentation, but their craftsman were just as good artists as anyone so they paid attention to proportion. Pleasing and durable. Good design.

Anyway, basic proportions, golden rations etc. still hold as there is something human about them. Basic styles: I prefer Chinese provincial, Campaign, Stickly, with a bit of Bauhouse Parsons, Eames thrown in. A lot of “art” furniture spends too much time being “artsey” and is not functional. Fine for display, but furniture design should fall under “industrial design” . Function and visual.

Of course, if you are building to commission, you build what they want even if you find it tasteless. :)

There. my two cents worth.

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