Definitions, Classification, Etc*
URNITURE designing is the art of delineating and ornament ing household effects so they become objects of beauty and pleasure as well as service. Furniture designing means giving thought and study to the proposed plan; the seeking for the best forms, sizes, proportions, materials, and workmanship to produce what is required. It may be necessary to make several attempts before success is attained, but the result will be the best individual effort. In this sense designed furniture should be useful, handsome, and well made of properly selected material used in an attractive way. Furniture may be made without any special study or thought, the result being mechanical, careless, and lacking in artistic qualities. A mechanic may make something that is serviceable but extremely ugly, and without design. If, however, he has the personal quality that causes him to take pride in the appearance oi his work combined with the knowledge of how to proceed to obtain the beautiful he will become a designer, for he will put his mind to his work, giving it a personality, independent of chance effects.
Furniture made without this thought and study brings to the mind at once the feeling that something is wanting. Either the lines indicate an indecision in the mind of the maker, or the methods employed in its construction show no desire to produce the best effect with the material.
Furniture can be divided into three classes, according to use.
First, DOMESTIC FURNITURE, including that for dwellings of every rank.
Second, CIVIL FURNITURE, that for public buildings and places of business.
Third, ECCLESIASTICAL FURNITURE, for churches.
Furniture may also be divided into two groups named for the methods of construction. The first, Framework, includes seats, tables, mirrors, screens, etc,, and all articles not boxed in. The second, Casework, includes chests, bureaus, sideboards, desks, etc., and all articles which are cased (boxed) in by panel work or its equivalent.
The materials from which furniture is usually made are wood, metal and stone. The use of metal and stone need not be considered here, because these materials are employed for extraordinary furniture of a more or less fixed architectural character not strictly within the general accepted meaning of the word. The natural material is wood, which has many qualities to recommend it. It is abundant, easily obtained, and easily prepared in convenient form for use. It is of light weight so that objects made from it are not heavy enough to become inconvenient, and it is sufficiently strong to serve all practical purposes.
The ease with which it is worked into the forms desired, and the facility with which necessary repairs may be made are recotn-menda-tions in its favor. In addition to these advantages, which may l>e called technical, there are the aesthetic and physical reasons why wood is superior to other materials. It is agreeable to the eye in its natural state, which furnishes a large variety of colors, but if these do not meet the requirements stains of any shade can be applied with ease. It also assumes, under proper conditions, a polish of a greater or less degree. There are 110 objectionable sensations experienced when it is touched by the hand, as it is not hard or harsh, nor is the temperature unpleasant.
The kind of wood used may have an influence on the character of the design. Some woods are of a coarse, open grain hardly adapted to small details or fine work. Such woods are oak and ash. They are well suited to large, heavy articles for severe usage, and of broadly executed designs. Woods like mahogany, satinwood and maple are of a fine, close grain and admit of a more delicate treatment. Mouldings and carving in these woods may be smaller in detail than seems proper for those of a coarser grain. This feeling is quite well recognized by everyone, so that furniture for halls, libraries, etc., is often of the coarse woods, reserving those of finer grain for the living-room, parlors and bedrooms.
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