Seattle Coffee Table
Furniture design is an abstract art form. I don’t approach it in a “non-objective” way, though. I mean, I don’t try to assemble “elements” of lines, shapes, colors, textures, etc., to make a pleasing composition without any reference to the real world.  I think all of my designs have had some visual reference, things such as human and animal forms, streams, farms, wind-blown leaves, floating leaves, spring time, and architecture. So, there is usually a “story” behind my designs. I’ll take architecture as an example.

My inspiration for the “Seattle” line of tables was from the historical buildings my wife and I visited in China and Japanese architecture I’ve read about. I was really fascinated with the roofs of some of the buildings in China. We saw that they were often decorated with interesting carved figures having symbolic meanings, and I found the repeating rooflines of the pagodas to be very intriguing. In some of the historical buildings, huge logs functioned as pillars. These buildings reminded me more of tables than of our western style buildings.

Playing around with the idea of repeating rooflines, I finally came up with the idea pictured here. The stretchers overlap the legs using a shallow cross-lap joint so that the stretcher is much proud of the leg surface. Judging from the responses I’ve gotten, I think it very effectively evokes the idea of multiple roof lines, but I also find it an interesting detail even without that visual reference.

Other elements that refer to the Asian architecture are the reverse tapered legs (from the log pillars) and the wide overhang of the top (like some Japanese buildings).  However, the negative space around the stretchers and the straight lines work to keep the piece looking very light and Western, and I kept the dimensions of the components modest to enhance this effect and keep the piece looking contemporary. It really is a fusion of my Western tastes and elements of eastern architecture, so that is why I’ve decided to call it the Seattle style.


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Previously published:

Fine furniture, Camano Island, marquetry