Join Jonathan Racek for an in-depth discussion in this video What is furniture design?, part of Rhino: Furniture Design.
- So what is furniture design? Looking up furniture in the dictionary brings up words like "accessories" and "equipment," but furniture design extends far beyond such definitions. It's got elements of social science, elements of the humanities. It's an applied art that draws upon different areas and necessitates an understanding of materials as well as fabrication techniques. So furniture design, it's no one thing. It's more of a holistic discipline, drawing upon many other areas. While furniture can be seen as playing a primarily utilitarian role, such as a place to sit or rest or a place to organize your stuff, in the context of furniture design, function alone is never enough.
Instead, the practice of furniture design should combine ideas of beauty, of theory, materiality, fabrication, business, sustainability, as well as the context, that is, the interior space in which the furniture is placed. All of these ideas and elements, they integrate together to some idea, and together they make great furniture great. So furniture design touches upon many different professions: architecture, industrial design, art, and business. Furniture design has had a long, intertwined history with architecture.
Many of the world's most famous architects have designed chairs, sometimes as standalone furniture, and sometimes as part of a larger building they were designing. Frank Lloyd Wright, he liked to design the building, the furniture inside the building, the drapes, the plates, and even the silverware. Charles and Ray Eames, Arne Jacobsen, Mies Van der Rohe, and more recently Zaha Hadid, all architects, and they've all designed influential pieces in the history of furniture design. Furniture design can also be considered within the world of industrial design, a discipline concerned with the production of consumer goods.
As part of the world of consumer goods, furniture design can involve ideas of production, assembly, and packaging. In addition to ideas of manufacturing, it can touch upon marketing and trends. Designers such as Harry Bertoia, with his Diamond Lounge Chair, Arne Jacobsen, with his Swan Chair, and Jean Prouve, with his Antony Chair, all of these designers have created pieces for mass production, overlapping heavily into the world of industrial design. The world of art also intersects furniture design, such pieces of furniture that usually emphasize something beyond functionality.
Usually this furniture, they're one-of-a-kind pieces that are exemplary in their craftsmanship, their material choice, or their concepts. Designers such as Jasper Morrison, Sam Maloof, and George Nakashima, they've all exhibited their furniture in galleries and museums as pieces of art or sculpture. Finally, the buying and selling of furniture is a business all its own. In this way, furniture design intersects with the world of commerce. Many factors, they influence the value of a furniture piece, such as how it's displayed, the quality, the aesthetics, and the targeted market.
A furniture piece will be valued and marketed very differently in a store like Target than in a showroom like Vitra. There are many furniture companies that design and sell their own lines. Some of the most famous are Herman Miller, Vitra, Kartell, and Cappellini. So, we've started to define how furniture design overlaps with many other disciplines and professions, such as architecture, art, industrial design, and business. Next, we're going to dig a little bit deeper about the why of furniture design. We're going to discuss how furniture supports the human body and how furniture influences different activities.
Start by framing your work and exploring big questions such as "What is furniture design?"
Next you will learn by doing, modeling some of the important pieces of furniture history (such as the Thonet café chair and Eames DCM chair) to gain a better understanding of the masters of design.
Explore the furniture design process by following along with the research, schematic design, design development, and documentation of a brand-new furniture design.
Extend and translate
Last learn how to translate your furniture design to other software by exporting assets for 3d printing, rendering, and game development.
The training is focused on the creation of complex organic surfaces while you maintain precise control of that geometry's accuracy. Packed with tips and timesaving strategies, these tutorials will not only make you a better furniture designer, but a faster one as well.