Design Curriculum Launch
We are excited to announce that we have officially launched our design curriculum this week. Design is extremely important in furniture making. We realized that there is a huge obstacle that woodworkers must overcome when progressing from replicating, renovating and modifying other maker’s work to creating something unique from scratch. That is why we hope to offer several design courses that will help woodworkers become amazing furniture designers.
The first major course in this set of design classes will be Principles of Design. This class will cover the foundational material that all future courses will build upon. Principles of Design is more similar to architecture school than a traditional woodworking class. Lectures, demonstrations, projects, assignments and work critiques are all part of this core design offering. Learn more in the class description below.
Tentative Design Class Offerings
Principles of Design
Functionality is a primary purpose of furniture; each piece has a particular use that its form facilitates. For example, a pie safe is crafted to hold pies (shelves), have air flow (vented doors) and sit up above the floor for ease of access and to protect the pies from varmints (long legs and an elevated body). While a successful one must solve for these functional constraints, when we look at a line-up of pie safes there are clearly other forces at play. We could start to describe how each pie safe looks – elegant, solid, spacious, compact, etc. These types of descriptors are in reference to its form – an idea related to but not entirely tied to the function of the pie safe. While each iteration of the pie safe solves the same functional problem, the form is varied based on the many decisions made by the furniture designer.
Learning to be a good designer begins with loosening your mental connections between form and function and letting go of past formal preconceptions. You may have imprinted in your mind what a particular object looks like, however this limits your ability to design something that is unique to your given circumstances. Take a chair for example – is it a chair for a specific place, or one for mass production? A place to sit for a long time, or just for a moment? What does a chair look like that is designed by you versus someone else?
In this course, we will address these questions by focusing on the principles of design through investigations of form. We will deal heavily with elements of composition in both two- and three-dimensions, practice craft in both drawing and model-making, and work on discussing the things that we make. We will explore how to design something that is not only functional, but also has a visual and spatial intention unique to its application and unique to you, the designer behind the piece.
Starts September 16th, 2019.
Introduction to Drafting
Learn the basic principles and techniques of manual drafting. You will be introduced to mechanical drawing tools and their uses before proceeding to produce scaled technical drawings. Potential topics covered will include the mechanics of basic woodworking joinery, orthographic projection, measuring & scaling, line relationships & sectioning, form, depth and volume.
Introduction to Sketchup
SketchUp is a free, powerful, easy-to-use design program that you use to create fully detailed 3D models of furniture. You translate those models into accurate measured drawings that let you build the real thing faster and with fewer mistakes. In this hands-on virtual class, you’ll learn how to navigate the 3D design space confidently and how to use SketchUp’s array of tools. You’ll also learn how to make models quickly and accurately, following four important good practices, or rules for success. The instructor will guide you through the creation of an original SketchUp model and the steps needed to generate working drawings from the model.
Topics Covered in this class: Rules for success, SketchUp tools, Template setup, Basic tools, Creating a basic table model, Demonstration of creating a cut list, scene, and basic measured drawings
-After taking this class via a video conference, you’ll have the knowledge you need to continue making models on your own.
Design history has emerged in recent years as a significant field of scholarly research. Design historians, with their interest in the conceptualization, production, and consumption of objects, tend to investigate the ways in which furniture objects both shape and reflect their historical moments.
As a designer (Mark Macek), my point of view on furniture history looks at the forms and the visual vocabulary of the designs, dating back about 150 years. Most 20th century furniture design, not surprisingly, relates to the formal concepts of modern art and architecture, particularly the theme of abstraction.
As a craftsman, I am interested in seeing how wood furniture was designed by trained woodworkers such as Hans Wegner, so that the three-dimensional materiality of wood is expressed. The strengths and weaknesses of wood grain lead to logical kinds of formal decision making. The best examples of wood furniture design always account for wood movement, even if the forms appear to defy wood’s limits.
The class meets as a single session for three hours. The slides and lecture will allow time for questions and comments. Your only assignment is to ask questions. We will look at pre-modern furniture to see traditional takes on recurring issues of structure, utility, and expression. The Arts and Crafts movement and the Secession will transition to modern figures such as Esherick, Ponti, and Nakashima. The techniques of steam-bending and bent-lamination open up new formal possibilities, as seen in the work of Aalto and Eames. Wendell Castle defines his own genre of furniture art. We will finish up with contemporaries such as Tyler Hayes, Caleb Woodard, and Matthias Pliessnig,
Furniture Design 1
Sharpen Your SketchUp Skills – An Intermediate SketchUp Course
This two-session hands-on class covers three ways to enhance your SketchUp skills:
- One, creating accurate details and parts, such as stopped chamfers with lambs-ear ends, egg-and-dart molding, cabriole legs, curved and tapered legs, ball-and-claw feet, and ogee bracket feet. You’ll also learn how to use one pin to create a full dovetail joint in a jiffy.
- Two, how to install and use plugins—separate apps that make SketchUp more powerful. Plugins let you easily generate a cutlist; create shapes that the basic tools can’t handle; find and fix problems in a model; round over corners; create complex joinery; bend parts such as back splats for a chair; and much more *This class covers the 12 best plugins for woodworking.
- Three, how to use digital images to add realistic woodgrain textures to the surfaces of a model; how to import an image of a part such as a cabriole leg, scale it, and trace over it; and how to import a photo of a finished piece and trace over it to create a model.
Furniture Design 2
A deep dive into furniture design with elements of model making and prototyping.
Course description – to be announced