The idea that perfection is attainable is more the myth and mystery than the reality. Because there is no way to actually measure perfection in some finite way, we must then establish how we ourselves feel about the thing we made first. Is it indeed the final outcome of that made thing or is the whole process equally important in the evaluation. Indeed, is the design itself, in its drawing stage, the thought stage or the made state capable of being perfect or do we evaluate these as stages reaching toward a future condition of the whole?
I rode my bike and designed this lamp. From the start to the finish of the concept in my head I had designed all of the important elements going from the three-point contact with the floor all the way through to inventing a joint that would support all the connectivity of 16 joints and 15 components. Though I had never made this joint in my life until this, nor had I made the piece as a floor lamp, I knew in the whole of it that it would work. With this level of confidence, the design was already perfect and so too the concept. Whereas you might spin a piece around on a device to conceptualise every angle. That’s nothing compared to the 3D full-colour image my brain gives me with simple shift I think into being.
The process of making the lamp was already crystal clear in my mind. Each stem and step I made came together like clockwork, with almost no changes made along the route I took. Though unmeasured and unmeasurable, the concept itself was, at least in my mind, perfect and perfected. You see it was the wrestling I went through with my thoughts that conceived something as yet unmade and undesigned. If you like, concept parallels conceiving or conception, the genesis of an idea that leads to something ultimately gestating to the point of being born into our reality. This thought process always prefaces every design unless serendipitously we adapt or adopt something intended for something else and make it into an alternative reality. My floor lamp may be perfect as a freestanding lamp but would work equally well as a coat and hat stand. When thoughts occur we begin to transition along a path of creativity into a realm of sketching and writing to ourselves. We are not concerned about a perfect drawing or perfect writing. Both are indeed free-drawings and free-writings. Grammar in both is out the window. Looking back on my drawings they leave much to be desired but they did indeed capture my original thought. This genesis-keeping is critical to me and for me. It’s perfect and I say to myself either out loud or in my head, “Perfect!” How can something as yet unmade be perfect? Well, it’s the concept itself that’s perfect. The idea, if you will.
It’s important if not essential that we capture our original thoughts before we lose them. Of course, no one can measure perfection because perfection is only determined by how we perceive the outcome of what we have accomplished. Perfection and our declaring of it is not a finite definition. Mostly we consider these phased outcomes according to how we feel about the stages we have reached. Our human nature is subject to great fallibility. Often, we face difficult stages in work and when we overcome the impossible we might say ‘Perfect!’ when what we really mean is ‘Eureka!’ Why? Well, eureka comes for our ancient Greek past where ‘heúrēka‘ meant “I have found (it).” or ‘heurískō‘ “I find“. This passage of discovery is indeed intrinsic to us all and we experience such discoveries every day. Hence, “Eurika!” and the modern-day American equivalents of, “Wow!”, “Cool!” or then too “Got it!” and many others. This light-going-on moment, anvil-dropping-out-of-the-sky revelation, is what happens and it happens to us all the time and mostly when we least expect it.
Arresting phases in design is important in perfecting our concept. I say ‘perfect’ all the time even when the wood is rough or wet or the joint is initially poorly made. I don’t care about other’s concepts of perfection, I care about the new joint that stems off the leg to give me exactly what I need. I care about the triple-leg element that means that project will never rock. I care that a table can sit squarely to the main body of the piece and still look like it’s actually detached and floating, and care that I designed the whole thing whilst enjoying a bike ride I cannot even remember much about but that the sun was shining, it was early morning and I desperately wanted a design that truly meant something.
This chair came together over a decade or so ago. It was mine. I designed every element of it so it is uncopied and it has been made in many different woods through the years. I named it because it is my design. It’s called The Brazos Rocking Chair because I loved messing around on the Brazos River in Texas whether that was floating in a well-patched truck tube or fishing with my boys from the banks. This, my best of friends, sums up why I say the word Perfect!