Improvisation

02pwm0814designmattersModifying a design means more than simply scaling.

by George Walker
pages 18-19

How do you modify a design without making a hash of it? It’s a common question that dogs even the experienced woodworker. Any good cook knows that simply doubling ingredients is asking for trouble. Somehow those flavors that danced together in a recipe for six go flat when combined for 12. Scaling an adult-sized chair to a child-sized version is more than just making everything 40 percent smaller. Anatomically it might fit, but it just looks off.

In furniture design, this plays out in a variety of problems, from scaling a cabinet to fit an odd corner of a room, to integrating a seashell into a carving, to something as deceptively simple as lengthening a turned handle on a marking knife. And then there’s the adventuresome soul who might want to grab inspiration from a pleasing form and make a major detour, while still echoing something from the original.

In all these scenarios, it’s helpful to take a closer look at the original inspiration and discover what lies beneath the surface. This knowledge is the raw material that informs judgment and makes it possible to move ahead without stumbling completely in the dark.

Blog: Read more from George R. Walker on his Design Matters blog.
In Our Store:Unlocking the Secrets of Traditional Design” and “Unlocking the Secrets of Traditional Design: Moldings,” George R. Walker’s DVDs.

From the August 2014 issue, #212
Aug14cover150