“1. Never encourage the manufacture of any article not strictly necessary, in the production of which Invention has no share.
2. Never demand exact finish for its own sake, but only for a practical or noble end.
3. Never encourage copying or imitation of any kind, except for the preserving of great works.”
— John Ruskin, The Stones of Venice (1854)
For more thoughts on Ruskin and thoughts on furniture design, visit James Watriss’s blog.
14 thoughts on “Broad and Simple Rules”
That looks awesome.
The case looks good. The quote, not so much.
I mean, within a certain point of view, a computer is something “not strictly necessary,” in the sense that failing to own one results in death or maiming. But there is no “invention” in the computer’s CONSTRUCTION; only in its design. (And, importantly, in the design of its factories.)
I’m sure that a world where everybody took this kind of rule-of-thumb seriously would be a world with a lot of unnecessary physical privation.
It’s all in the interpretation.
The quote is in the same vein as the one from Gustav Stickley: “Have nothing in your home you know not to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”
For me, computers are strictly useful. Glass unicorn figurines, not so much.
Bugger – now I have to get a cloth to clean my morning cup of tea off my iPad!
“Glass unicorn figurines, not so much” heh- have to remember that one 🙂
Well, see, I can TOTALLY buy into the Stickley quote. I do allow some deviation, in that I will have things in my home that my nuclear family believes to be beautiful, even if I know them not to be all that useful.
But that’s really quite different from the proscriptions announced in the Ruskin quote. Ruskin thinks he’s only standing up for craftsmanship. But he’s not — he’s deligitimizing the aspirations of poor folks who would have very little at all if they stood firm in their refusal to buy anything that’s mass-produced crap.
How much “invention” has to go into a product before it’s OK for a proletarian family to covet its possession?
I think this is the tyranny of small differences at work.
If you consider the entire line – 1. Never encourage the manufacture of any article not strictly necessary, in the production of which Invention has no share – then art and beauty (Invention) is in Ruskin’s world. Anyone who knows of Ruskin and his writings would (I hope) agree.
Very nice. I’d love t have you write a few words on the mechanism for the top drawer and secretary portion. I know I’m not getting how it all works.
If glass unicorn figurines are not useful, what can you say about furniture designed to display them?
The drawer front is a fall front. Because the fall front also has to function as an inset drawer front, the pivot point of the hinges is important – it is a whisker above and in front of the drawer bottom. This allows the fall-front to pivot down.
Then you have to make room for the fall front to lay flat. There are a variety of ways to do this (rabbets, rule joints, etc.) but I chose to cut a simple bevel on both pieces. These two complementary pieces stop the fall front when it is horizontal.
To reinforce the fall-front, the brass quadrant stays stop the fall front from going beyond 0°.
To lock everything when the desk is not in use, there are catches at the top of the drawer’s sides.
It’s a lot of hardware, but it’s not hard to install once you get how it all works.
Hope this makes sense.
And when it’s all together, I’ll post a movie that will make everything obvious.
It does make sense. But does the whole inner unit, the drawer “sides,” bottom, and pigeon holes slide out as a unit? or do the pigeon holes stay inside, while the sides and bottom (writing surface) slide out together?
The whole kit and caboodle slides forward. The gallery is affixed inside the drawer.
Now it’s clear. Thanks.
I can agree with the first part of the quote only in the context of furniture or tools. Art per se isn’t strictly necessary, e.g. paintings, sculptures, etc., from a functional or utilitarian perspective, but man (OK, OK, persons) needs art.
Any hidden compartments in that gallery and/or piece? Would such be traditional for campaign furniture? Seems like they should be de rigueur for such a piece. Military intelligence, or protecting same, what?
Really beautiful work, Chris!
Very nice Chris. It’s hard to believe you’re now going to take that to Africa and beat it up. Or at least wish you could go to Africa where it would get beat it up.
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