When I first got into woodworking I built simple projects that I needed for my home. The first project was a horribly designed night stand for my daughter. Then I built a recipe box that still gets used to this day in our kitchen. I like the old paper recipe cards in the kitchen - the thought of spilling something on my tablet or smartphone makes me cringe. Oh, and then there was the cool mailbox that had a closed area on the top for mail (bills) and an open area at the bottom for newspapers and flyers. Now I get my news from The Onion...it's not nearly as far fetched as the real stuff these days.
I then studied furniture design and making and tried to make a go of things as a furniture maker. I had to price things into the stratosphere so that I wan't competing with the Ikea's and the Walmart's of the world. Studio furniture was what I needed to be making so that I could set myself apart from the others. The problem was that the people who needed a $10 000 hall table were few and far between and they were already giving their money to someone else.
It wasn't until a couple of years ago that I realized that I was happiest with my woodworking by making the normal mundane stuff for around the house. The problem was that finding books on vernacular furniture was not that easy. The closest I had come was books that had the word 'country' in the title and that didn't really seem to fit the bill. Museums didn't really have much to offer because their collection where more on the high style side of the scale. So short of finding old pieces in antique shops and older homes, I didn't have much to go on ... until now.
Chris Schwarz has released another book with the word 'Anarchy' in the title. In our scared society I'm surprised he can ship them anywhere without going on a no-fly list. I really enjoyed the first book he wrote so titled, The Anarchist's Tool Chest, because it was no bull-crap (is that hyphenated?) book on the one of the fundamentals of woodworking, the tools. On my third reading of the book I discovered that for me it was less about tools and more about an attitude towards woodworking and life in general. So it was no surprise to me that his latest book, The Anarchist's Design Book, was no different.
To me, this book speaks to a way of life. A simple approach to furniture and the techniques for making it. Clean lines and simple concepts that would look at home in almost any decor (unless you're still rocking the black, brass and glass of the early '90's). There is no lack of design in this stuff and making it look right takes some practice. Material thicknesses and sympathetic components that make or break the pieces are crucial for success.
Add to the mix Chris's sense of humor, thoughtfully laid out chapters and beautiful plates and you have a real winner. Small details like the cotton-covered boards and the black-painted page edges make me feel funny in my bathing suit area. I own almost every book that Lost Art Press has published and I love them all. The Anarchist's Design Book has become my favorite of the lot. Now I must put the book down and get into my shop.
In order to understand, you must do. - V