- The period from which the
all the factors above are combined to guide
you in the
design and crafting of custom, unique furniture.
- Determining the size and
complexity of the project. Are you familiar with many of the design considerations and the type of construction involved ( joinery, details, curves, finish, etc.)
- Creating ideas on paper including sketches and drawings become comfortable with basic sketching and line drawing
- Creating mock-ups or scale representations of the furniture mock-ups can consist of cardboard, small sticks, or any available material which can be used to provide an visual idea of the proportions and design)
- Examine the mechanics of the design, component shapes, sizes ( proportions) and materials to be used. Mechanics of construction typically describe the joinery and the engineering of the design.
You will need to create a form that fulfills all the functional expectations of the piece. Both form and function need to be considered in a furniture design. The furniture design needs to work (function) but also be aesthetically pleasing (form).
- Begin to
visualize your design ideas
- Define the type of furniture you are designing (
cabinet, table, dresser)
- How will this furniture be used
( function )
- Begin with known, proven design standards ( Golden rule or mean)
both positive and negative shapes and areas (both solid and empty areas in a design each form a shape) i.e. area between table legs, negative space around curves
- Design furniture to complement other furniture in the room or alternatively, to contrast with surrounding furniture
- Base your furniture design on a previous style or period (Chippendale, Hepplewhite, Federal, Shaker, Art Nouveau)
- Use design elements from previous styles (tapered legs, ornate, large components, small or fine components)
Golden Age of Furniture ( 1700-1799)
Late Jacobean 1160
Georgian 1714 -1745
- 1774 ( Queene Anne cabriole legs, complex , ornate carving)
Shaker 1784 -
Victorian 1800 - 1850
Art Nouveau 1875
Arts & Crafts 1876 - 1916
Modern 1900 - Present
Bauhaus 1919 -
A few modern , well-known furniture makers
Sam Maloof contemporary furniture maker (California)
James Krenov contemporary furniture maker (Scandinavian influence)
Wendell Castle contemporary furniture maker
Jere Osgood contemporary furniture maker
Each of the styles above have been influenced by many factors including the reigning monarchy of the time, renaissance or revivalist style (Greek, Roman architecture influences), the repudiation of the previous style, etc. Sometimes style periods contrasted the previous style, much like fashion today ( the design pendulum swung from ornate back to simplicity and back to ornate).
- Elaborate (
Gothic, Barocque, Louis, Empire)
Modern style is a statement against opulence and complexity, a movement towards minimalist furniture.
Certain periods in history also embraced certain woods as follows:
Walnut 1660 -
Keep your furniture design
Design accents into furniture ( contrasting woods, subtle design elements, inlay, carvings, details).
Shaker furniture is a good example of a minimum of shapes and components assembled into a simple, straightforward design.
Scandinavian furniture (Danish Modern) has simple lines
- Develop the
furniture design in its entirety
The complexity of the furniture design
How much time will be consumed in creating this piece
of furniture. Do you have the necessary skills
and expertise to undertake the project. Are you sufficiently equipped to
undertake the crafting
of this furniture design. How large is the furniture, do you have sufficient
space to be able to work in.
The furniture you are designing
Is the furniture
design adapted from a previous style. You can apply elements from a previous
or period into your design. Resources you might use to derive a furniture design
woodworking publications, woodworking books, etc.
furniture period has not yet been defined and can be considered a work in progress.
The assembly of all the individual components of your design, with aesthetics, proportion and symmetry all being considered. The height to width to depth ratio for your furniture design are factors which form the design proportions. You can use existing ratios to scale your furniture design proportions as follows:
Coffee Table -
Keep in mind the standard work surface heights from published ergonomic charts. The height of furniture is to be considered along with the depth of the furniture design.
Golden section (rectangle)
Pleasing ratios which have been used by master architects, painters, and implemented in furniture design throughout the ages.
Golden number or
mean is .618 or 5/8:3/8 = .625
The golden rectangle is a proportioning guideline for:
H= 1.625 therefore W = 1 or H= 32 if W=20
For a Golden carcase maintain the balance of proportions
i.e. shell depth = shell height ( h= .625, w=1, d=.625) or (h=.625, w=1,d=.375)
You can also stack
multiple golden carcasses together
Logical sequence of design
Create concept sketches ( use each successive sketch as a basis for a new idea or extract an element of the sketch to be added to design)
The next logical steps are as follows:
You can create a rough drawing of the design from the sketch with the major proportions, scale, and elements of the design described.
A three-view orthographic drawing ( front, side, top view) follows
projection ( improved 3-D view of piece) is one of the final
steps in the design sequence, this includes key measurements.
Take your time, learn and enjoy the design process !!Learn more about designing furniture with the WoodSkills Woodworking Course DVD