November 2015 Wood News Online Welcome to Highland Woodworking - Fine Tools & Education Learn more about Highland Woodworking View our current woodworking classes and seminars Woodworking articles and solutions Subscribe to Wood News


by Steven D. Johnson
Racine, Wisconsin

(Page 2 of 3)
Previous Page   1   2  3   Next Page  

Experimental Furniture – Who Decides What’s "Good" & What's "Bad"?

Click on any picture to see a larger version.

In another publication I read recently about a furniture show in which there were many experimental designs on display. The author stated that "some designs worked, others did not."

I'm not sure if the author was espousing opinion or quoting experts (I was, alas, multitasking and therefore not reading with 100% brain engagement) but I did begin to wonder just "who" is the arbiter of what works and what doesn't. Surely, in a system of free enterprise, it is the buyer, or potential buyer, that is the final word on what works and what does not, not a writer or any one expert.

I love the opera. I am not an expert, nor am I purist… experimentation can sometimes improve on otherwise excellent material. For example, I know enough Italian to follow most Italian-language operas and don't particularly like subtitles, but if they are necessary to bring in a wider audience, so be it… I'll live with the distraction.

Last week I saw an opera that went way past experimentation, though, and into an area I deemed plain weirdness. About halfway through the performance my recurring thought was "Experimental opera meets Second City Television." Both bad. Together, horrible. But that was purely my opinion. As I stated, I'm open to experimentation, so let the audience decide. And they did. At intermission about a third left and did not return. Like a 42-zip football game, by the time the performance was over, fully three-fourths of the audience was gone.

When Da Ponte wrote the libretto and Mozart composed Cosi Fan Tutte, I am quite sure that neither envisioned Delfina appearing on stage in her boy-style underpants and that Fiordiligi never removed her bra during the performance. I doubt, too, that the pictures of their fiancés that Fiordiligi and Dorabella clutched to their hearts were not 20 X 24 photographs and that the disguises Ferrando and Guglielmo wore to trick their girlfriends were more than 12-inch wide handlebar mustaches. And while I'm generally okay with experimentation, I am absolutely certain Delfina never uttered the word "crap" on stage and the magic magnet a disguised Delfina used to cure the boys of their poisoning was more than a music stand. I stayed for the whole performance though because who am I to judge? Those observations were merely my opinion… and that is the point.

Declaring any furniture design with a thumbs up or thumbs down… to say it "works" or doesn't… is, at the least, presumptuous. At the most, it is wrong-headed, egotistical, and counter-productive. Let the market decide. If one person loves it, one piece will sell. If a hundred people love it, a hundred will sell. If no one buys it, the design did fail to "work"… but only the market can make that decision. No "expert" and no writer can or should decide or impose personal taste. The next time you attend a furniture show and see experimental designs, it is perfectly okay to say you don't like something, but it would be folly to declare it a design that "doesn't work."

(Page 2 of 3)
Previous Page   1   2  3   Next Page  

Return to Wood News front page

Bookmark and
See Previous Newsletters Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Copyright © 2015 Highland Woodworking, Inc.

Highland Woodworking | 1045 N. Highland Avenue, NE | Atlanta | GA | 30306 | 404.872.4466