Tables of Content
“Tables of Content, Art 351, Furniture Design and Making” / First Review
This summer, eighteen students from across campus, including architecture and art, are taking a class called, “Tables of Content, Art 351, Furniture Design and Making”, meeting Monday and Wednesday mornings 8:30 to noon in the School of Art wood shop with Jim Nicholls, Senior Lecturer in Architecture, and John Martin, Senior Shop Technician.
Students are being introduced to the fundamentals of wood furniture fabrication and furniture design in the class. A constraint driven framework for evaluating design intentions has been established, with student work addressing the contemporary issues of smaller living spaces, frequent moving, modest budgets, and environmental legacy.
The material properties of wood and the fundamental processes of woodworking are being emphasized. Students are learning the tools and techniques of the wood shop by working hands-on. The ‘marks of making’, and the opportunities of constructional necessity are seen as potentially expressive vocabulary. Designs have evolved and negotiated the distance between original intentions on paper and the fabrications of physical reality. The furniture studies have become lessons in structural integrity, human dimension, and domestic function.
Two small wood tables, designed for small-run batch production, are the required projects for the studio. The tables are intended to be value-added primarily through design intent and resolution, rather than degree of skill and hours of labor, or expense of materials. Each project is designed and built to be durable, sustainable, and nomadic. Supporting a small residential footprint, the functional tables allow for the possibility of multiple uses, doubling up as storage and seating.
The first project begins with a given material, scrap 2×4, a waste-stream opportunity left over from construction site framing. The students are asked to design and build one table using only the 2×4 material. Primarily side grain gluing and clamping are used to join the wood, however dowels and biscuits are used when required. The size of each table is limited by having to fit within the sum of 18″ by 18″ by 18″. Although the table cannot have any moving parts, drawers, or doors, the whole table may rotate, end to side, or top to bottom. The second project has the same set of constraints as the first, but is open to any type of wood, and is larger; it must fit within the sum of 18″ by 18″ by 36″.
Although students began using tools in the shop on the first day, designs started the next class with a review of ¼ scale models. These were then developed the following week into full size 1:1 drawings in plan and side view, complete with parts list and a work plan for building the table. The 2×4 material was supplied and available on the first day. Each student will purchase his or her own wood for the second project; a budget of $10 to $200 has been suggested. The first 2×4 project review was July 11 in the School of Art Courtyard, the final review and exhibition of both projects will be August 13, 9AM to 12. Everyone is welcome.
Written by Jim Nicholls, Senior Lecturer in Architecture.