Almost every book I’ve written has started out as one thing (a manual on how to use crappy store-bought workbenches) and ended up as something else (“Workbenches: From Design & Theory to Construction & Use”).
My latest book is no different. It began as examination of furniture forms that have remained unchanged for the last 500 years, what I call the “furniture of necessity.” And at its core, the book is still that.
But as I dug further back into the historical record I began to see a bright string that begins with the furniture of the 12th century, snakes through every century and is tied with a bow to Danish Modern – then it unravels and falls apart with Bauhaus and biometric forms.
Most of all, I found the writing of this book has given voice to my own furniture designs, something I’ve been reluctant to do as a magazine editor or book publisher. (As an author with more guts than brains, however….)
Anyone who has ever visited my house knows that it is filled with many pieces that reflect my stripped-down aesthetic. I don’t like ornamentation. And I try to remove myself as much from the piece, paring things down until I get some heavy Buddhist feedback.
(By the way, I also own some historical pieces – I was an Arts & Crafts collector back in the early 1990s. And I have things that friends have made – potters, painters and other furniture-makers. So it’s not like a scene out of “2001: A Space Odyssey” but in wood.)
I’ve now written this book three times in its entirety and thrown out my two early versions (please don’t ask for them; they are the same place as my first novel). Each time, my point of view shifted as I was willing to walk out a little further on the ledge. When I was in England for 16 days in August, I started rewriting the opening line of the book and didn’t stop until… well, I haven’t stopped.
I have only two short chapters to write. Briony Morrow-Cribbs is working on the copperplate etchings. And then I’ll design the book. It might sound like a lot of work, but this is the easy part.
The most recent thing I’ve been working on is the book’s title and the cover logo. One evening in Sheepwash, Devon, I realized the name of the book I was writing was “The Anarchist’s Design Book.”
And so it is.
— Christopher Schwarz
P.S. Expect this book in January 2016.