Most of my commission work is surprisingly straightforward. People see something on my personal website (christophermschwarz.com) and say: Hey, I’d like you to build that again.
I build it. And I ship it to them.
Sometimes I get a request for something a little unusual. For example, this summer I’m working out the details of a three-tiered campaign chest. And I have a request for some Roorkhee ottomans. But those pieces are based firmly on my existing work.
This year, however, I got a very unusual order for a chair. It went something like this: Build me a chair, but I want it to advance your work as a designer. He gave me some thoughts on the woods he preferred and what he liked about my existing chair designs, but that was it.
I decided to use this opportunity to work out the details of an armchair for “The Anarchist’s Design Book.” I took an undercarriage design I’ve been working on for a couple years and refined it some more. Then I made the undercarriage parallel to the floor (instead of the seat), a detail I swiped from Chris Williams’s chairs. I shortened the armbow. Added some spindles. And did a major reshape of the crest rail (sometimes called a “comb”).
The chair looks good. It sits even better. But it’s not the armchair for “The Anarchist’s Design Book.” During construction of this chair, I devised a number of ways I could simplify this design so it would be much easier to build. And ease of building is one of the most important principles in the book.
So I am incredibly grateful to this customer who gave me the huge gift of freedom. And even though I failed to produce the bullseye design for “The Anarchist’s Design Book,” this chair is an important stepping stone to that design.
Which I started working on yesterday.
— Christopher Schwarz