Furniture Design with Bob Dylan in Mind

March 24, 2020 - Kerikeri, Northland, New Zealand

The sky is the limit when it comes to woodworking techniques. There are makers out there, wizards of all sorts of joinery, marquetry, veneering... The list goes on and on. A question I often ask myself is where to stop? Where will I set deliberate and intentional limits on my craft?

Many of the best craftspeople have access to basic tools and use fundamental techniques.

Bespoke furniture design
A simple coffee table made by the great, George Nakashima.

Many of the best craftspeople have access to state of the art tools and elaborate techniques.

Furniture Design with Bob Dylan in Mind 1
A virtuosic cabinet made in the 18th century.

So, where to head?

In days past, you would apprentice under a master of the craft, organically pick up techniques and modify them to suit your needs as your experience increases.

Now we live in the face of infinite technique options and infinite design inspirations. It's hard not to feel dizzy when facing up to a plethora of concepts and techniques that don't belong to a set cultural tradition.

I've found music can help guide my decisions.

When questioning how I will tackle a design, I like to think back about how I like to write songs. For me, a song should be simple, direct and strike at the heart. My artistic tastes do not lean towards the virtuosic but instead toward the spirit.

Furniture Design with Bob Dylan in Mind 2
Acoustic Dylan.

Let's take one of the greatest songwriters as an example. Bob Dylan. His songs use simple chords, commonly accepted forms and simple words. The genius lies in his ability to weave these in such a profound way as to make direct contact with the heart.

Do I find the internet useful for establishing technique and inspiration? Yes. If my furniture could approach the simple profundity of Bob Dylan's work I'd be a very happy maker.

Though I would consider leaving out a few of those harmonica solos.

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