Variation Study

This series is a study into how variance can be achieved within a set of defined specifications. I was inspired by a quote from Frank Lloyd Wright which got me thinking how important individuality is and how repetitive manufacturing processes can sacrifice this need.

“There should be as many (styles) of houses as there are kinds (styles) of people and as many differentiations as there are different individuals” – F.L. Wright

TABLE I

TABLE II

TABLE III

TABLE IV:

PROCESS:

In addition to the variation from the designs, anything made by hand generates differences that make a piece unique. Natural materials also provide their own individuality as no two pieces of wood produce the same grain pattern and, when you cut through a rough sawn log and start to mill it to a polished surface, you witness the beauty of the unpredictable grain pattern begin to emerge.

The joinery connecting the components in these tables is a variation of a full bridle joint. All joints are cut by hand, the waste is chiselled out, and the parts are glued together.

All planes over 100mm are made from two pieces of Black Walnut joined by hand to create a seamless joint. This is to prevent the larger components from cupping, bowing, or twisting with moisture levels in the atmosphere and as seasons and environments change. It is also used to create a larger panel of walnut without using sapwood and/or having to use heartwood that runs too close to the pith (this is less-stable wood). Sapwood is the living part of a tree and is different in colour to the heartwood. Sapwood is very volatile and unpredictable and will distort over time.

I experimented extensively with concrete to achieve the right mixture for the table tops. I wanted the top to be the same thickness as the other components so I decided to make concrete slabs 25mm thick and support them underneath with 20mm of wood to prevent them from taking too much strain and potentially cracking. To get the finish I need I use a sand and cement mixture and pigment but avoid the use of larger aggregate in the mix.

MATERIALS:

Walnut became popular for high-end furniture in Britain in the late 17th Century until, in 1709, a harsh winter killed all the walnut trees (which cant survive below -25c). Due to it’s beauty and cost, Walnut is often associated with traditional furniture styles from this period and also with high-end mid-century modern furniture designs.

Concrete is a composite material of aggregate and cement. When used fir building it is normally a mixture of course aggregate (such as gravel), sand, and cement. Water is added to the mix and, when it evaporates, the mixture sets and becomes concrete. The earliest recordings of concrete in use for buildings dates back to 6500BC by the Bedouins in southern Syria and northern Jordan.