Design Matters: Mouldings Got a Start in the Gutter

Woodwork and architecture share some surprising DNA.

by George R. Walker
pgs. 16-18

I am a country mouse who likes to visit the city. It’s a habit that doesn’t make much sense, because I’ve always preferred walking in the woods to dodging traffic.

But when my design quest led me into the world of architecture, I came to value the urban landscape. As a woodworker I had a vague idea of the overlap between buildings and furniture, but I was stunned, then delighted, to learn just how much.

Throughout history, our furniture echoed and reflected the best creative ideas from buildings. It turns out that many of the things that make us feel good about a home also resonate in our favorite chair. That’s the shared thread that runs through our furniture-making craft and is key to understanding the hidden gems of good design.

I’m not saying that you must school yourself on classic architecture (oh, yes I am – it will rock your world). But just taking the time to pause and look with purpose at that old courthouse or library building can unlock a treasure trove of ideas. If you think about it, this connection makes sense. Much of our architecture began as wood structures, and both carpenters and cabinetmakers shared many tools and techniques. But this goes much deeper than a common material and tool set. Furniture and architecture also share a common design language.

Blog: Read more from George R. Walker on his By Hand & Eye blog with Jim Tolpin.
Plan: Download historic cornice drawings from the author’s site.
In Our Store: George Walker’s DVDs “Unlocking the Secrets of Traditional Design: Moldings” and “Unlocking the Secrets of Traditional Design.”

From the April 2017 issue, #231