Addition by Subtraction
When adding design elements, less is often more.
By George R. Walker
One useful way to think about furniture design is to think about it as a language. It’s a set of ideas and structures furniture makers and builders passed down through the centuries to express their ideas in wood. Much like a spoken language, the words or ideas you use our thoughts and words that our ancestors used long before us. As our language needs evolved beyond simple words, we invented verbs and adjectives. And somewhere far back in time, artisans realized they could tell stories in wood with borders, edges and space. Language works exceedingly well for us precisely because it’s a shared set of ideas that we understand and can use with precision.
If furniture design is a language, architecture is the mother tongue of much of what we know about it. For much of our history, architecture and furniture design were one and the same. Architecture lies at the root of the string of material knowledge passed down through our ancestors that furniture makers have used to carry out their ideas in wood.