RESEARCH AND SKETCHING
First thing first. Reading...
I read multiple articles that all had a similar underlying theme.
If you are going to own things make them mean something to you. Own things that have value and stories.
Below are the four main articles that I read to begin my research. I encourage you to bookmark them for your Sunday morning read. Paired with a iced coffee you won't be dissapointed.
If you only have time for one I highly recommend 'EMOTIONAL DESIGN' by Donald Norman.
These articles and books all influenced what the next step of my research process was going to be...
Now that I have nailed down exactly what this project is about I reached out to thirty people who I thought would value this direction of design.
I wanted to hear their thoughts on passing down furniture in the 21st century.
A HUGE thank you to all those who andwered these questions!
1. Do you have any pieces of furniture that have been passed down?
2. If you have had anything passed down, did you really want to keep it? Or is in storage? Out of sight out of mind?
3. Have you ever purchased a piece of furniture or any item with the intent to pass down to your children?
4. If you were to pass down a piece of furniture what would you look for in a piece?
5. Would you rather pass down a home accessory?
6. Even if it was not passed down, what is the oldest piece of furniture in your house? what has made you keep it all these years?
7. Do you think the idea of passing down furniture has become to old fashion?
I can not explain how much these emails meant to me. What may seem like a set of straight forward emails truly convinced me that designing furniture is what I want to do with my life. These stories about furniture being in families for years and the memories attached to them moved me more than I ever expected.
Here are some of the greatest takeaways.
"My parents’ hope chest was always at the foot of my parents’ bed and had my moms treasures in it
I would love to have my grandmother’s little china cabinet that I used to lock and unlock as a child and her red stool that I sat on when she made me tea. I have never forgotten these things after all these years!"
"Besides its utility the value and style I treasure it because when our son, now 29 was about 6 he carved his sisters name in it. I am sure intending that she would be the one to get in trouble
It was pretty funny at the time, now it makes the piece endearing. "
"My husband also has his great-grandfather’s desk which is his pride and joy. He has wanted it for years and years and his grandfather gave it to him when we moved into our new house
The top is worn from where his great-gran parents used to play cards every night."
" I have a couple of pieces of furniture that were passed down. One is a kitchen table that David’s parents bought for his first apartment. That table was used in Chicago, Salt Lake City, Dallas, Minneapolis, St. Paul, Birmingham, Oklahoma City and Boulder. It now resides in my daughters apartment.
I love to think about how many people sat at that table, and the conversations that occurred over it."
"I believe in passing down furniture. It’s part of our family heritage. We even have an expression in our family, “It’s just house,” or “It’s just furniture,” for something that has no character or memories or history associated with it, and which is therefore meaningless and not worthy of having in our home. "
The final takeaway from all these answers was understanding that I can never design a piece with the intent of it getting passed down.
Instead, I had to design furniture with the function and ability to foster memories.
First, the arm chair.
We all have an arm chair in our family that we have vivid memories of. Maybe you still own it or maybe you remember it from your childhood. I have heard stories from people who remember their mother reading her book every evening in this specific arm chair in their living room. I have heard that the upholstery on their dads arm chair has worn down where he rests his head every night after a long day of work. I specifically have incredible memories of my grandfather doing the cross word in his arm chair every time I would come over to visit. He has since passed away but every time I go to visit my grandmother I look at the arm chair and see him.
What became an armoire in my final collection was originally drawn as a cedar chest. Every young girls treasure chest. I wanted the chest to have compartments and sections that were meant to store anyones treasures. I feel like when storage units like this have mechanisms or hidden compartments it provides an opportunity for a person to store their important trinkets or possessions. With this type of function there is automatically an attachment to the piece because it is where you stored your treasures.
I wanted to have a piano in this collection because it is something that plays such a huge roll in a household. While I have never learned to play the piano I will always remember my mother playing it when I was in grade school. Specifically playing "All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth" when I conveniently lost both of my front teeth. Unfortunately, I ended up not including a piano in my final collection due to time constraints.
I had done a similar design in a past project that I wanted to build off of. In a previous design I created a desk that rolled out to reveal a second desk top. I thought that this design could be edited and recreated to allow for a more collaborative work space. It seems like a type of desk where children or parents could gather together and work together. It turns a big desk that is normally used in isolation and to work into a desk where collaboration and conversation can be held. Paired with a mismatching chair.
This daybed was inspired off the classic french style daybed that split into three sections. I wanted to modernize this style as it is so perfect in creating conversation with in a living room. It is easy to lay down and relax but with the joint work I included it can be taken apart and pivoted so the chairs sit adjacent to each other.
Finally, The Buffet.
The most important part of this design is the material. I wanted to create this buffet with the intent for it to hold china and other important dishes. I wanted the top of the unit to be glass so you can look down on the china pattern. I have always liked china cabinets but I think it is an interesting and new idea to display them from the top. The second most important part of this design is the copper front door. With a garage like mechanism the copper door would eventually turn into a patina where your hands continuously open and close the door. I loved this idea because it could become a piece that gets passed down and you could literally see where your grandmother hands had been.