Architecture as Furniture Inspiration | Popular Woodworking Magazine
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Gothic Pattern

When considering ideas and looking for inspiration, I don’t like to limit myself to just the furniture or joinery in isolation. Considering the environment around me helps me form ideas and leads off into interesting tangents of discovery. “Holistic” would be a nice term, but would likely make me sound pretentious. You see, I’m not an expert; I just have a healthy zest for learning.

The photos here are snapshots from a local town about 12 miles from where I live that has many unique features. If I had more talent and time, sketching what I see would doubtless be a joy, but with a young family demanding eyes both in the front and back of my head, a quick snap is all I have time for. In the February issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine, Christopher Schwarz features an attractive oak Aumbry with Gothic tracery that prompted me to take another look at some photos I had stowed away.

I find the rhythm of the window above completely hypnotic. In a perverse way, the black pollution on the deep-set stone contrasts with the lighter clean stone fronts to create a pleasing feature. It simplifies the form and makes things appear more delicate than they really are. It’s also easy to see the link between early English furniture decoration and the institution that trained, influenced and employed many skilled artisans.

Rams Head

The above decoration is most likely a nod to the trade that brought the town its prosperity. The rams head is located near the base of a several door jambs in this street supporting stout doors all made from Oak. The ram has been communicating its message of success from textile trade for around 400 years, which is quite an inspiration. For so many cultures, Oak always seems to stir fond feelings and it’s easy to see why. It’s been such a staple in carpentry, joinery and furniture making for so many hundreds of years. Its narrative of certainty, durability and confidence is woven into us.

Flower

On the relevance of these flowers, I have no clue – although I’m sure there’s a good one. It’s certain, however, that the beauty of these carvings shines through the black gunge that’s been applied over the years proving you have a hard time ruining true quality.

More broadly, all these snaps help me discover how furniture and architecture are so closely linked and reflected in one another, and that to ignore the built environment would be be like losing an eye.

— Graham Haydon

 

 

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Showing 8 comments
  • woodjunky

    Something worth remembering….Much of the incredible architecture in England, France Germany and across western Europe, was lost or severely damaged during World War II, and thanks to the incredible effort throughout Europe by skilled craftsmen and tradesmen, those beautiful structures were restored or rebuilt. The tragedy is that those skills are not being passed along and those trades being replenished with young craftsmen and tradesmen. Thanks to guys like Graham who have a genetic predisposition to the craft of joinery are those needs being met. You inspire us older guys and you also put our minds at ease when we realize you are the future of the craft and trade. Here on the other side of the pond, post-modern churches are starting to re-think their worship spaces and are attempting to bring back the traditional look and feel of the classic architectural standards that were set back 100+ years ago. Much like period furniture, architecture is having a re-look at the old, traditional styles that were the standards many years ago. While we are still, swiftly becoming a more “throw-away” society, architecture and design is pushing us back to solid, well-built, well-thought-out design. I hope!!! Keep up the incredible work Graham. You are doing things today that would make your ancestors proud. The apple didn’t fall far from the tree. Cheers!
    Mike Jones

  • BLZeebub

    The builders, artisans and architects all took their cues from the natural world. If you’ve ever seen a flying buttress and a Banyan or Mahogany tree it’s easy to make the connection. And as to the superfluity of Gothic styled architecture, one only has to venture into a well tended garden to find the germ of inspiration as the Greeks did. Think acanthus.

  • Graham Haydon

    Hi Bill,

    It sounds like you have my problem, I seem to notice a great deal of things and marvel at the skill behind them. The Church were a very strong design influence here that filtered into wider society, its nice to see the how things link together and where ideas flow from. Thanks for the comment.

    G

  • Bill Lattanzio

    The top photo appears to be a church. I’m always amazed not only by the architecture of old churches, but the artistry as well. They are often filled with paintings, sculpture, carvings (including relief carvings), tapestries, as well as the wondrous architectural features. I’m not much of a church goer anymore, but every time I enter one I find myself checking out the details great and small. That, to me, is one of the greatest of inspirations.

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