Lessons Learned through Furniture Design

Hey, hey, hey!  My school year is half way over (this semester = done!) and I’m so happy I could sing about it!  And I probably will.  Later.  Anyway, I had an epiphany – commence Chrisette Michelle “Epiphany” – well, that wasn’t very much later, now was it?  So my epiphany is that throughout my furniture design course, life lessons that I have always been taught were made real for me.  Check them out below.

1.  Measure twice (or 15 times.. whatever works), cut once.

As a design student – especially architecture, interior design & landscape architecture – one of the first lessons in model building is to make sure all of your measurements are correct before you even think of picking up that Exact-o knife!  Otherwise, you will mourn the loss of your chipboard and your precious time if you foolishly cut the pieces without making sure they will fit together in the end.  In normal human (not crazy designer) terms: If you plan well, you’re less likely to have to re-plan.  That doesn’t mean there won’t be changes along the way, though.  It just means that you have a strong foundation to help you towards your goal.  So measure twice – develop a strategy that will most effectively reach your goal; and cut once – carry that plan out well, leaving room for adjustments that life will definitely cause.

2.  Everyone needs help in one way or another.   So ask for it.

I’m very hot-headed when it comes to showing my “independence.”  Exaggerated example: No, sir, I do NOT need your help to carry my groceries.  Yes, I’m only 5’2″ weighing in at under 100 pounds, but I shall carry all 12 of these bags with my bare womanly hands.  I appear to be in agony, you say? Why yes, I am.  But I WILL BE STRONG & INDEPENDENT, thank you!  *throws nose in air* Crazy, right?  That is generally my attitude, though.  Background: I was raised mostly by my sister, so anything we wanted done, we handled it ourselves, and we made it work!  So I take being independent to an unhealthy extreme.  I’m better about it than I used to be, but I still have plenty of room for growth.

Furniture Design Says:  Hahahaha, puny little girl, you can’t even turn the knob to adjust the angle on that jointer.  GO ASK FOR HELP!  I’m so serious y’all, there were so many knobs on table saws, or pieces of wood just as big as me – and I could not handle them by myself.  If I was going to ever get my project done to pass the friggin class, I had to ask for help.  And lots of it!   And OFTEN!  So it’s safe to say, “it takes a village,” and my professor was awesome about helping me with all of the knobs I couldn’t even fathom loosening, clamps that I couldn’t twist and wood that I couldn’t even lift, let alone manage to cut with a saw.

3.  There’s no easy way to assemble the pieces – but you’ve got to start somewhere!

That’s right.  Just start already!  Sometimes you need to think hard and long of where to start so that you won’t have to back track or so that you can make the path ahead of you as smooth as possible.  But sometimes you have to throw caution to the wind and just do one thing that you know needs to be done.  And then do another thing that you know needs to be done.  After repeating that step a few times, the rest of the steps will start to fall in place.  This may be my favorite category because it lends itself very well to my favorite quote: “Just Do It!”  Nike style.

For the table I made in Furniture Design, there was one point when I asked myself, “what the heck am I doing?  This looked really swell on paper, but what is this going to turn out like?”  The more I questioned myself, the less confident I became.  So I stopped questioning, and just looked back at my plan (see point 2), because it made enough sense when I first began – so much so that my professor approved of it.  So I started completing step which I knew could be done early on.  That included cutting the wood down to the correct measurements (after measuring twice, of course) for all of the pieces I need.  Everything else fell into place after that!

4.  Sometimes, you just have to watch the glue dry.

Oh, patience.  When the maker was handing out life skills, you saw me, shouted “NO,” and jumped to the next person.  But watching the glue dry (along with other everyday life lessons that a senior undergrad student goes through) taught me to stop.. hold my breath while I spread the glue, then sit down and wait for that stuff to dry!  I used a LOT of glue in my table – that was my only method of connecting my pieces, actually.  No screws, no hidden joints.  Interesting.  Anywho, the point is – there will be many life moments when you will just have to sit down and let the glue dry!  Life speeds by, but it takes time.  Are you following?  Everything won’t happen right when you want it or need it to, therefore you have to just be patient.  Do some other homework (tend to other parts of your life) while the glue is setting and building a stronger piece (let that part of your life mature while you continue to work on other parts of your life).

I am a very visual and experiential learner, and the hands on experience of creating my own furniture has left a huge impact on not only my designing skills, but also my life.  Deep.  I was not expecting that when I enrolled into this class!  But that’s one of the surprises I love about higher education.  I go in expecting something, and leave with much more than I bargained for.  It’s like going to the Oprah or Ellen DeGeneres show – you go in expecting a tear-jerking, heart-felt story and hope to leave encouraged about life.  And then you get a car.  Yep.  Just like that!  Those are some amazing benefits 🙂

Here are some photos of my Furniture Design progress over the semester.  Enjoy!

Until next time, good people – Ci Vediamo!!!


Random aside:  I’ve tweeted it, but I shall say it again.  In the words of Dionne Warwick’s song lyrics: “What the world needs now is love, sweet love.  It’s the only thing that there is just TOO LITTLE of.”  My prayers and condolences go out for all who were killed in the Newtown, CT elementary school and their families, the young man who committed the killings and his family, and all children who had to witness this today.  That is a tremendous burden to bear at such a young age – I pray for their strength and that this does not leave them damaged in their growth as positive and happy human beings.  And prayers for our nation and our world.

I love you all!


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