(c) Furniture designer:
"I had two specific problems, both in furniture design. The primary problem was to find a method for making an integral drawer pull design which complemented an existing group of furniture that I had designed a few years ago. This group was successful both in design and in sales. I needed a solution that combined the same kind of good looks with economy in production. Case goods, that is, cabinets and chests of drawers, are basically boxes distinguished primarily by surface and edge treatments. Case goods always seem to look best when the design seems to be a natural outgrowth of the materials used. I try to avoid 'applied' design elements. I'd already designed a line or series of case goods that embodied these elements but it seemed to lack a certain spark which both I and the manufacturer felt was needed. I had gone over and over this problem trying new tacks but nothing seemed to come of it. I really didn't expect to be able to do anything new since my feeling was that all possibilities were exhausted. What actually happened was a complete surprise.
"I found that as soon as I began to visualize the problem one possibility immediately occurred. A few problems with that concept occurred which seemed to solve themselves rather quickly. This was quickly followed by another idea based on this first thought but with a variation that gave it another look. Visualizing the required cross section was instantaneous. It was the last idea that I thought was most remarkable because of the way in which it developed. This idea was the result of a phantasy that occurred during Wagner. I knew that there was a classic quality in some of the shapes that I saw during this period so I put down the line that seemed to embody this characteristic. (This evolved in a series of rapid sketches to a completed drawer-pull.) I've made this handle and it has exactly the quality that I've been looking for. All this time I kept being very amused at the ease with which all of this was done. It was so easy to do this that I felt no necessary impetus to do more since I felt I could do a lot more of them at a later date. However, it was the non-specific phantasy that triggered the idea that led to this result.
"I went on to tackle a headboard problem for another manufacturer which was also quickly solved. This solution had to be rejected the next day because of some cost factors that I was not aware of during the design time. But, I had no difficulty in coming up with another solution that never had occurred to me before. This in the light of new problem definition.
"I then decided to do something that always takes a lot of time. Doing a good dining chair that is both elegant and inexpensive is very difficult. Chairs are always seen as sculpture and seldom in pure profile. Chairs also require a discipline in shape and structure unnecessary in other furniture. Discipline in shape because of the human anatomy, and structure because of the hard usage it gets. I had not been able to do an original design for some time. I very rapidly ascertained what the basic structure should be and the basic details also quickly followed. I did no refining, because this kind of thing is best done in three dimensions though I could visualize the finished product. I decided that I had the chair and then went on to think of a type that I'd never done before. This one too seemed to present no difficulty. Even when I look at this today it all seems so obvious."
(The drawer pull was reduced to a model in one week's time, and has been accepted by the manufacturer-client. One of the chair designs was modeled satisfactorily on the second try, with no radical changes from the original concept. Previously, chair designs had required on the order of two months and ten trial modelings to complete.)
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Architect Manager of Product Planning