Chris Schwarz's Blog

Contest: Give Your Furniture a Pompous Name

I know I am going to get flack for this, but I cannot help myself.

Last week we received two copies of a cool new book in the mail , “500 Cabinets: A Showcase of Design & Craftsmanship” (Lark). The book is (though I didn’t count the cabinets) a collection of 500 designs from woodworkers all over the world.

Most of the cabinets are contemporary, and almost all of them are fun to look at. All the staff members here have been paging through these books since they arrived. I really like these books because you get to see a wide range of work, and it’s usually beautifully presented.

But there is something about these books (and some contemporary furniture in general) that makes me giggle: Why do some woodworkers insist on giving their pieces of furniture artsy and unscrutable names?

When I opened the book, the first cabinet I saw was on page 147. It’s a cool piece of work. Well-proportioned. I want to know more about how the maker achieved the surface texture. But here’s what he named the cabinet: “Naked Came the Weekend.”

I was drinking some coffee at the time and I started laughing so hard that I didn’t know if the brown water was going to come out my nose or my pants.

Here’s another: “Misery is the River . . . Cabinet.”

Here’s the scene in my head. My wife and I are in the bathroom one morning and she says: “Honey could you reach over the commode and get me toilet paper from the Misery is the River (pregnant pause) Cabinet?”

Or: “Ceci N’est Pas une Boite a Tiroirs” (This is Not a Box With Drawers). Note to self: Add French for another layer of artistic shellac.

“Leap and the Net Will Appear.”

To be fair, most of the cabinets in the book have names that are more along the lines of “Teak Sideboard” or “Chiffonier.”

But the funny arty-named ones keep me turning the pages.

So here’s the contest: You can win a copy of the book “500 Cabinets” simply by submitting your own artistic and pompous title for a piece of furniture. Submit it by leaving a comment below (be sure to include your e-mail so we can contact you , e-mails addresses are never published, by the way).

The deadline is noon EST, Aug. 6, 2010.

– Christopher Schwarz

Our Best Furniture Books

“Greene & Greene Furniture: Poems of Wood & Light” by David Mathias. We just received our advance copies of this book and all I can say is wow, wow and wow. It’s available for pre-order in our store now. I’ll be blogging more about this book when I return from North Carolina.

“Building 18th-century American Furniture” by Glen D. Huey. Glen sits two cubicles away from me, and even though I talk to the guy every day, I am still in awe of the work he does. This book is a collection of his best pieces.

“Shop Drawings for Craftsman Furniture” by Robert W. Lang. Bob also works with me here at the magazine, and I am pleased to announce that we now carry his books in our store. Before I knew Bob, I knew his books. His whole series of Arts & Crafts books is excellent.

93 thoughts on “Contest: Give Your Furniture a Pompous Name

  1. Chris Jacques

    My tool cabinet will be named,
    "The Long Weight"
    I’m still growing the wood, and I’ve got guilt on my shoulders from storing my chisels in a metal toolbox.

  2. John Williams

    "Proust Roost" – single wall shelf long enough to hold the complete leather-bound works of Marcel Proust.

    "Weapon of Crass Instruction" – MDF cabinet with screw joinery formerly used in a remodeling reality show.

    "The Scarlet Fetter" – a red crib.

  3. Quin Leach

    The Right Honourable Cabinet of Upper Gumtree

    Furry is so a color

    Nietzsche averts eyes; avoids staring contest – Cabinet

    Better, faster, stronger – 6 million dollar Cabinet

    Bask in my luminous presence, unworthy mortal!

    This side up

    Post no bills

    The Holy Side Chair of Antioch

    A social injustice which can be corrected with wealth redistribution
    (name for any gallery piece with an exorbitant price)

    Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Récamier – Recliner

  4. Michael White

    comatose cellulose – a bed
    time in exchanged for space – armoir
    cherry in repose – lounger
    zacchaeus’ perch – sycamore stool
    green bane – redwood fence
    fluid motion of symetry
    osmosis in relief – red oak carving
    dynamic static interpose

    I decided to stop…

  5. JM sisler

    A Shoji cabinet such as by Ryan Shervill in Number 181, February 2010 Popular Woodworking-
    Morning Glory
    Morning Dew
    The Bluebird Singing
    I really liked "twenty-three weekends I’ll never see again","Untitled",and "A match away from nothingness"

  6. AAAndrew

    David V.’s exhibition has a "No.2" where the boards are now chips of wood and they sit on a table called:

    "The Table of No Contents"


  7. tim k

    it was a dark and stormy night…stand

    the unvarnished truth

    Sue (for a highboy)

    wuthering heights in semaphore

  8. Louis B.

    "that which shall remain nameless"
    …for just about any piece of furniture…

    Louis B

  9. Vince G

    Another interesting contest might be to explain the references (most of which I had to Google). I guess Naked Came the Weekend is a play on the hoax novel Naked Came the Stranger, or one of the other popular occurrences of Naked Came the… (don’t know where it got started, really). The question is, how does the piece connect with the reference? Maybe Naked Came the Weekend is a piece of faux furniture? A hoax piece cobbled together by a crew of woodworkers? A previous poster has already highlighted the Magritte reference, which may or may not be aptly used, but the others, I haven’t a clue. Leap and the Net Will Appear is certainly out there, and I assume the Misery/River one is a Tom Waits reference. But how do these references connect to the piece? Can’t tell without seeing the book, and even then it’s probably a long shot…

    Anyway, for the contest:

    Un certain je ne sais bois

    Meaningless, but I can just see it working. In fact, it’s probably already been done more than once.

    For hopelessly obscure references, though, I’ll go with:

    When the Pants Come Off…Into the Drawers They Go.

  10. Ed Furlong

    I may have seen too many art installations, but how about this:

    "Chiaroscuro: Intersect between the bedded angle and the angle of repose–A soliloquy in figured wood and A2 steel."

  11. John Cashman

    Juh jen sh guh kwai luh duh jean jan.

    Everyone would be Kari, if only they tried.

  12. John Cashman

    French is so last millenia. All the future elite will be using Chinese.

    fahng-tzong fung-kwong duh jeh
    "A Knot of Self-Indulgent Lunacy"

    BEE-tzway. Wrong wuomun FAH-TSAI
    "Shut Up and Make us Wealthy"

    in English:
    FAY-FAY duh PEE-yen

    You’ll have to look the last one up yourselves.

    Kari the Village Carpenter should recognize these.

  13. Kurt Schmitz

    ‘yes, it’s gonna stay like this’
    ‘it’s what I’ve been doing in the shop’
    Breakfast nook buffet table: ‘biscuits with legs’ (sorry, luddites)
    ‘fleam flicker’

  14. Andy Lovelock

    ‘Lion’s Lair’

    A name for a chair commissioned by a Londoner who was born within the sound of Bow Bells. (St Mary-le-Bow Church in Cheapside, London). In other words a ‘cockney’. ‘Lion’s Lair’ in cockney rhyming slang means ‘chair’. The rhyming word isn’t spoken so when people came round they could say "Sit in the Lion and take the weight off your plates." (Plates of meat rhymes with feet).

  15. Andy Lovelock

    For a chair: ‘Lumber Region’
    For pine furniture: ‘Knot Perfect’
    For a Welsh dresser made out of hardwood: ‘Di Hard’. For a small production run of Welsh dressers made out of hardwood: ‘Di Hard 2’, ‘Di Hard 3’ etc.
    For a piece of abstract wood art ‘My hovercraft is full of eels’ or any other name that bears no resemblance to what you’re looking at.

  16. Rick Roberts

    Dual constipated syncopated urination station.

    constipated [ˈkɒnstɪˌpeɪtɪd] . def. 2. subject to restriction or blockage in a flow of productive activity or creativity

    syncopated . def. 1 : cut short : abbreviated

    Two seater outhouse leaning to one side and named during a blockage in the flow of creativity.

  17. LizPf

    The Cabinet (the only one worthy of being called a cabinet)

    Reflections on a Gift of Spalted Maple

    July (built in February)

    Wood Zeppelin (this is a LP cabinet to hold a priceless collection of early 1970s rock records)

    And finally, we have a glass fronted cabinet filled with wood shavings, entitled:
    Positive and Negative: the Dialectic of Woodworking

  18. David V

    "The Death of Woodworking"

    Featuring three apparently rough cut boards that were actually hand planed and meticulously carved with a carving knife to resemble rough cut wood.

    1) A 2 foot square walnut board. Individually titled, "Walnut Square."

    2) A 2 foot square cherry board. Individually titled, "Yorkshire Countryside in Blue"

    3) A 2 foot square maple board. Individually titled, "A 2 foot square maple board."

    It should be noted that the edge of the famous "Yorkshire Countryside in Blue" has a spot that appears to have been a drop of blood from a sharp carving knife. The spot is actually a deconstructionist narrative of the myth of woodworking to demonstrate the personality of the board and any further working on the wood destroys the true beauty of the wood through social conformity. This psychoanalytical embodiment created a radical shift from the hegemony of abstraction in a way that no one actually understands.

    The three pieces are on display on a simple table. The table has been titled, "Bob".

  19. Ben C

    "…from dirt, water, sun, and blade."

    "a match away from nothingness"

    "one man’s treasure"

  20. Tristan Williams

    "Thus Spake Zaraschwarztha"

    "May The Schwarz Be With You"

    "Somewhere to keep my stuff"

    "I’m too sexy for this cabinet"


  21. Larry

    The Etiology of Suffering: a stool.

    Entropy, a Cabinet in Three Acts.

    Carpe Lignum

    "Le bois, c’est moi."

    By the way, for those who are unaware, the "ceci n’est pas une boite a tiroirs" title above is a reference to Rene Magritte’s painting "The Treachery of Images"–a painting of a pipe with the caption "ceci n’est pas une pipe" (this is not a pipe). His point was that it was in fact a picture of a pipe, not a real one. So if the piece actually is a box with drawers, I’m afraid the person may have seriously missed the point…


  22. Jon

    Also Sprach Kabinett

    If French gets bonus points for snooty-ness, surely German does, too. 🙂

  23. Narayan

    "L’essence du Boîte"
    "You Put Your Weed In There"
    "Where’s the Fun in That?"
    "Schädenfreude Deluxe"
    "Pffftrrr" (this name must be accompanied with a horizontal swipe of the hand)
    "Shop Class as Soulcraft"

  24. Sean

    Here’s a cabinet I made that I and my family just call the "pinwheel cabinet" to distinguish it from other furniture, as in: "I think there might be some batteries in the bottom drawer of the pinwheel cabinet …"

    I now realize that such a pedestrian, obvious name won’t do. I propose the "Sexing the Cherry" cabinet after the postmodernist novel of the same name:

    How’s that for pretentious?


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