Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Mies van der Rohe said it best- God is in the details. I might be the least religious person I know (too many years of Catholic school) but there are times when I can't help think of that quote when working in my studio.

When I'm designing a piece of furniture, I try to think beyond the nuts and bolts of it. Sure, a desk is just a desk, but I like to include a few details that make a piece a little more special for the person who uses it. If I know someone likes a cup of coffee or tea, I might inlay a small tile into the top of a piece, functioning as a built-in coaster. I once built a media cabinet for a photo journalist, and incorporated a hidden drawer into her piece, perfect for storing some of her prized negatives and prints. (This was before we entered the digital age.)

So I wanted to include something different in this simple table that I've been building. Nothing beats a hidden compartment, and in this case, the compartment is actually a small box that locks into place, but can be removed.

The hidden box is variation of a simple pencil box, with a lid that slides across the top. There are dissenting opinions about whether a box like this should be finished. An oiled box often imparts a slight odor, and can possibly bleed some finish over the years. This doesn't happen often, but because it can occur, some makers prefer to leave their drawer boxes unfinished. So for this piece, I chose to leave the box unfinished.

I like to "lock" these boxes in place, so that it can't fall out when the housekeeper moves it the when vacuuming. A low-tech method for keeping it in place is a small wooden handle. Swing it down, snuggled up to the side of the box, and it's held in place. Even the shape and curve of this little handle lends itself to the task at hand. There is a slight flair at the end, allowing it to be easily grabbed.

When I'm making a commission, I like to send current status photos to the buyer. A shot or two during the process allows for some slight tweaks, if desired. And frankly, I've had some people remark that they've never seen a piece of furniture in various stages of completion. So it allows them to have a better understanding of how it all goes together; it might seem trivial, but it helps explain what I do.

Finally- the top. In this last picture, you can see the slight dip in the tile that I made. It's not much, perhaps a half inch or so. It's as if someone pressed their thumb down into the center, causing that impression. It's perfect for burning a small candle, or placing your watch or ring during a workout. Like the eBay commercial, it's meant to hold "it" - whatever "it" is for you.

No comments: