May 22nd – Pinkerton Academy So I undertook to put together a Symposium on Furniture design… the first question was what are we going to put in it? How are we going to fill a day?

Well, it became apparent very quickly that the real question was what can we leave out? There are so many talented furniture designers and makers, so many different styles and techniques. I suspect that even if we put together a 4 year full-time degree program we’d be trying to work out how to get some of it in, what we’d have to leave out…

So we are going to begin the day with a keynote speaker from Rhode Island School of Design. Dale Broholm is an adjunct Professor from RISDe’s Furniture Design Program as well as a successful Furniture Designer in his own right. He is going to be talking about the design process in general.

I have got to say, I am really looking forward to hearing this presentation. When I talked to people about this symposium the resounding opinion that I got was ‘I can’t do that because I can’t draw!’ So if this sounds like you… We have added classes that will show you those tools and that with just a little practice you can be using them to begin designing for yourself.

The ‘Visualization tools’ section to the symposium. We will have a presentation by guild President, Robert LaCivita,a graduate of Rhode Island School of Design, on hand drawing and sketching.

DJ Delorie will be demonstrating the Sketchup product, a free 3D modeling program from Google for those who prefer the computer. I also hope to have a presenter talk about the use of scale or full-size models and mockups to further visualize your ideas and explore the envelope before you start cutting expensive materials. This for me is a very important technique, I have on several occasions drawn up my designs, come to cut my first slender leg and found that it isn’t so slender… why?

Because I am now seeing the angle view that I didn’t get from my front and side view drawing… But when I build a model/mockup, how much detail do I want? Does a small scale model give me the same visualization? Then we will have 3 presentations on design considerations/components.

We have Jon Siegel talking about the design of turned spindles.

Charles Shackleton of Shackleton Thomas, Bridgewater, Vermont talking about how [small] details can change the look of a piece and make the design yours. Last, but definitely not least, Terry Moore discussing the new avenues that the use of lamination and veneer open up for the designer. Bye bye seasonal wood movement! The final sessions of the day will be 3 successful designers talking about themselves and their design processes. I have tried to bring together 3 contrasting methodologies for furniture design so that there is something for everyone.

Charles Shackleton provides a very different perspective than the typical studio furniture maker since his business employs a number of craftsmen who individually build a piece from start to finish. He has a range of furniture plus a selection of details that can be added to your made to order piece of furniture. Charles does all of the design work for his business so his drawings have to communicate his ideas to others too.

The second presentation will be by Terry “I’m not much of a draw’er” Moore, who at least has a reputation for sketching something on the back of a postage stamp and then starting to cut… we’ll get to see/hear if this is really the case! Can you imagine beginning that harlequin display case with anything short of several artists renditions and a full set of full-sized plans…

And the 3rd… TBA! Watch this space! And the thing that impresses me most… these guys give up their own time to come do this!