One would think that Gus and I (The Fo’sheimer and Filles Fabrications) would be almost done with these construction plans, given our overall awesomeness as a group, but this is not the case. Project Ventura has lost about 3 days worth of class due to “inclement weather,” so we’re a bit behind on Milestone 2. However, our Google Sketchup skills are still going strong! I had to start over on the bookshelf I was modelling three times due to my unrealistic dimensions, but it was worth it because it’s going to be an amazing bookshelf. I can see it being built already.
As was mentioned in other student’s blog posts, Austin Community College construction teacher Pam Powell helped us figure out Google Sketchup, talked through the processes that we have to go through in construction, gave us tips for furniture ergonomics, and suggested different kinds of woods to use for our furniture. She helped us with dimensions for our models, such as the complex measurements for the curves of the airstream. She personally gave me some direction for the bookshelf– I even learned why kitchen cabinets have that weird notch at the bottom (hint: it’s called a toe-kick)! So, essentially, she saved our lives.
Now that I’m feeling more assured about the physical construction of the furniture, I feel confident enough to play with the design to make it more visually appealing to the client. In order to do this, I did some research about what sort of design principles go into the construction of furniture.
The Canadian Woodworking magazine was a good source for this information. Contrasts, such as between light and dark or in the direction of the wood, add visual interest to a design. Using equal parts of elements can be boring, so one could change the proportions of an object to make it more interesting. Using shapes to convey different feelings about space can also be useful. For example, a rectangular table connotes that the person at the head of the table is the most dominant. Lines guide the viewers eyes around a piece of woodwork and can create balance. Texture and color suggest how a user ought to interact with an object. Darker colors imply more stability than lighter colors, and the surface quality of a material helps people emotionally connect to a work.
The furniture we make may be awesome, but if it doesn’t last then we would have done all this work for nothing. There are several steps we can take to make our furniture sustainable so that it lasts for the several generations of ARS teachers to come.
First of all, the materials we use need to be good for the environment. WiseGeek gives some good suggestions for this. Sustainable wood can come from eco-friendly forests or can be recycled or reclaimed. Woods such as bamboo, cane, mango, and maple mature rapidly and can be replanted instead of cutting trees for tropical rainforests. If we buy wood locally, we can reduce the energy consumed in harvesting, processing, and transporting wood while helping local venders.
Treehugger also gives some good tips for building “green” furniture. Reclaimed wood from old furniture or houses is a great source of sustainable material. Recycled or recyclable metal and plastic are also good eco-friendly materials. Good furniture should also be disassemblable so that it can be easily repaired, recycled, or put to a new use. However, it should also be durable so that it can stand the test of time. Bamboo is one of the greenest materials around because of its versatility and fast-growing nature, so I hope that we can use it to construct our furniture later on.
I hope you feel enlightened on all the aspects that go into making furniture beautiful and long-lasting!