Low Chest with Drawer

by Scott Meek on January 17, 2011

I’m realizing a couple things in my designs I’m doing lately.

  • I like designing with curves. I love the life it adds to a relatively simple basic form. Imagine the piece below with all straight lines, it would be pretty boring, missing anything that would catch your eye or add life to the space it ended up in.
  • I’m fascinated with furniture in which it’s function is to hold treasured items. Small boxes for jewelry, bookshelves, dish cabinets, chests, and even toy boxes (ever seen a toddler with a favorite toy? Better believe a toy box holds treasured items!)
  • A couple years ago, the thought of “design” scared me to death. It held me back from fully pursuing building furniture. Now, sketching and coming up with a design is invigorating! However, that doesn’t mean its easy. I have to make myself get over the initial mental blocks that still try holding me back. I can talk myself out of anything by thinking I’m going to fail at it. Inevitably, once I just start sketching, that mental voice is shut up and ideas and creativity ensue. Obviously, not every sketch is going to be something great, but every one is a stepping stone. Sketching opens my mind to new ideas to work with.

The idea for this chest came from sketching a few different chest ideas this past summer. I finally revisited the ideas this last week, and it just clicked.

I think this may be the most Asian inspired piece I’ve designed. It’s a piece I can’t wait to get built! When drawing a piece of furniture in Google SketchUp, it’s obviously impossible to impart the warmth to the design that it will have when built from wood carefully chosen for it’s grain pattern and color. A computer drawing will always lack the life of the real piece. So, what I see when I look at these sketches is most likely different from someone else viewing them. That said, drawing my pieces in SketchUp is a very important step for me. It allows me to literally build the piece in virtual space. I can work out tough joinery, get realistic measurements for making a cutlist, and view it in 3d to gain better perspective on proportions.

The joinery aspect definitely comes into play on this chest. Building the chest in SketchUp helped me figure out the joinery between the panels and the corner legs. I will be using sliding dovetails to connect the panels to the legs with a large stopped chamfer to accomodate the bottom of the chest. Click on the pictures to enlarge them so you can see the details better.

Its amazing what putting a pencil to paper can turn into. A quick sketch revisited months later has become a design that I can’t wait to build. I also realized a few continuing design elements that are creating a connecting line between all of my designs. This is helping me develop a finer sense of my design aesthetic and my goals as a furniture maker. The connection of my designs to protecting treasured items may be the most important self discovery I’ve made about my art yet. I’m very excited to see how this manifests itself throughout this year.

Note: I plan to continue posting my design process for new pieces here on the blog this year. If a design grabs you and you would like to purchase the finished piece, please email me for pricing information. Please respect the fact that these designs are my property. If you would like to build a piece I design for yourself, I’m fine with that. I just ask that you don’t make something from my designs I post here and try to profit from it. If my designs inspire your own interpretation in a new design, then I’m honored and would love to see what you create!

{ 3 comments }

Morton January 17, 2011 at 9:25 pm

Scott -- totally love it. Great job in sketchup too - it definitely helps to get all those joinery details down in the design - makes the shop time much easier to just work the wood. Love the lower drawer and the legs of course give it a nice flair. Can't wait to see it built as well!

Adam King January 18, 2011 at 2:39 pm

Were pencil meets paper, that's the space in which freedom of form should be found. I agree that Sketch-Up is a great tool, but nothing conveys the emotional content of your piece like old fashioned drawing does. Keep pushing the design limits and soon you'll see there are none.

Barry Chatwin January 21, 2011 at 1:49 pm

Great work Scott --- I'm really keen to see this built. I agree that we will all see this differently at this stage ... and it would be very special if you kept us up to date as this progresses to a real world chest.

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