Elliptical Tables and More
They might look the same but they’re not, not quite anyway. When I made the small tables for the living room of Sellers’ Home I experimented a little and made several shapes going from square to rectangular, octagonal and elliptical. At the experiment stage, developmental really, I left out the option of the ellipse in the end. I felt it muddied the water. Some things have to be trialled for a longer period than nestling a cardboard box by a chair for a few minutes just checking for height, space take-up, position options, etc. It’s more in the day-to-day use of a piece that we more accurately evaluate the true value of a design, find out what we really like, so I took my elliptical cherry prototype, still a finished piece in itself, to my office and used it for a few months. It just felt, well, somehow freer without any hard corners. Walking by it day-to-day I never caught my legs on it. In a tighter space, this is of real value and that is what prototyping is really all about. The dining/living area of the Sellers’ home kitchen is better with the ovals because people walk in and out past them throughout the day to get around the kitchen and through into the garden. This determined major elements of my self-discussion in my design.
In the dining area of the house, I have a couple of armchairs and used a couple of square end tables there to test out for height and functionality. Not too much to that but in tighter spaces square often does not work and that was what I felt about square tables. This is what the houseful of furniture in sellershome.com is all about. Making furniture that absolutely fits in every room that’s there and that for me as a maker designer means designing the pieces to fit the space and then encouraging others to consider this concept for themselves. Though this is not based on any philosophy, inevitably there is nothing new under the sun. The Arts and Crafts movement was about pure do-it-yourself and on a huge scale. Arts and Crafts movements in different regions embraced the concept of building your own home, decorating it and making as many items for it as you possibly could. Sears and Robuck, the North American mail order company, even sold whole houses for construction by you on your site. The styles were of course Arts and Crafts. It symbolised the American You-Can-Do-It attitude. Quite a remarkable concept.
So here we are on a much smaller scale but plenty big enough for a small band of half a dozen people striving to do it themselves. This has been an exciting year and a half already. We have invested everything over the past 11 years in encouraging hundreds of thousands of woodworkers to adopt hand tool woodworking in their shed and garage to make themselves. By ‘we’ I mean everyone I work with and that goes from our Bookkeeper to our videographers videoing and editing in the day-to-day. Our ambitious plans are filling the gap as we knew it would.
Each step we take demands every more from each one of us. My trialling an oval table results in a series of videos to be made and whereas in the past I simply made a piece and sold it a week later, now it is much more complicated. Even bookkeeping gets involved in that throughout the world they often have a value-added tax (VAT) at different rates in different countries and we have to charge buyers at that rate and then pay it to the relative governments. Of course, we did vote Brexit and that too led to some hiccups along the way but that will;l evolve as the future happens. So by the time we have videoed and edited the work, a simple table can be many weeks in the coming.
I did have a blast making my latest designs, and the changes were well worth it. It’s a little more complicated for a couple of less obvious reasons but good ones I wanted. Enjoying the process is one thing, but making it and concluding is it the most amazing sensation for me. To take something from a few rough boards and make something that will serve in a family for decades and even centuries is visionary beyond taxes and nationalism, politics and post-COVIDs. More than that, it goes beyond mere reason.