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Design Philosophy

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Two ways I think of design work are graphically and sculpturally. Graphics might strictly refer to the two dimensional but one clue to its true importance is our tremendous ability to remember and appreciate that identity. Logos, fonts, and design documents all capitalize on this. Great architectural drawings frequently say something beautiful of their own. Why does the two dimensional resonate so much in our minds? One explanation might involve the profound importance of silhouettes in indentifying the unknown. Is it a predator? Is it prey? Is it a mate? When things are in the periphery of our vision or low light they still have a strong presence. Their intrinsic nature is often captured in that silhouette or the strong lines that define it. So it is true with architecture and interior design.

Sculpture doesn’t fit on the page. It engages us as actors in the space. All the functionality and ergonomics that we expect out of our modern interiors and objects is related much more to the form than the silhouette. Sculpture is more dynamic and complicated and needs to be held up to the light more directly. The features, textures, and material complexities need to be investigated. Whether it is an enemy or a mate, there is a lot to get to know about them.

When I am designing a project for a client this dichotomy is going on in the background. Furniture, cabinetry, door systems need to have beautiful lines. They should frame views instead of blocking them. They should fit in with the existing sense of design and layout. They should also be things you would like to know, incorporating useful features, original textures and finishes and evocative materials. We will often emphasize the graphic or sculptural qualities of a design but they always have both.

Knots

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A knot is a particular type of imperfection in a piece of wood; it will affect the technical properties of the wood, usually for the worse, but may be exploited for artistic effect. In a longitudinally-sawn plank, a knot will appear as a roughly circular “solid” (usually darker) piece of wood around which the grain of the rest of the wood “flows” (parts and rejoins). Within a knot, the direction of the wood (grain direction) is up to 90 degrees different from the grain direction of the regular wood.

In the tree a knot is either the base of a side branch or a dormant bud. A knot (when the base of a side branch) is conical in shape (hence the roughly circular cross-section) with the tip at the point in stem diameter at which the plant’s cambium was located when the branch formed as a bud.

Growth Rings

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Where there are clear seasons, growth can occur in a discrete annual or seasonal pattern, leading to growth rings; these can usually be most clearly seen on the end of a log, but are also visible on the other surfaces. If these seasons are annual these growth rings are referred to as annual rings. Where there is no seasonal difference growth rings are likely to be indistinct or absent.

If there are differences within a growth ring, then the part of a growth ring nearest the center of the tree, and formed early in the growing season when growth is rapid, is usually composed of wider elements. It is usually lighter in color than that near the outer portion of the ring, and is known as earlywood or springwood. The outer portion formed later in the season is then known as the latewood or summerwood. However, there are major differences, depending on the kind of wood (see below).

What is Wood?

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Wood is an organic material, a natural composite of cellulose fibers (which are strong in tension) embedded in a matrix of lignin which resists compression. In the strict sense wood is produced as secondary xylem in the stems of trees (and other woody plants). In a living tree it transfers water and nutrients to the leaves and other growing tissues, and has a support function, enabling woody plants to reach large sizes or to stand up for themselves. Wood may also refer to other plant materials with comparable properties, and to material engineered from wood, or wood chips or fiber.

People have used wood for millennia for many purposes, primarily as a fuel or as a construction material for making houses, tools, weapons, furniture, packaging, artworks, and paper. Wood can be dated by carbon dating and in some species by dendrochronology to make inferences about when a wooden object was created. The year-to-year variation in tree-ring widths and isotopic abundances gives clues to the prevailing climate at that time.[1]