Scratch beneath the surface of any great design and there’s always something simple and profound. This fact is not lost on ages past. Even when fashions called for designs flush with ornament, designers were quick to point out that no amount of decoration can salvage a poor design that lies underneath.

Underneath the carved ornament on a Chippendale chair lies a simple form based on some geometric shapes.

Much of our contemporary furniture designs tend to strip away as much as possible letting the bones lay bare. What this points to, both period and contemporary is that the simple shapes that define a design are what makes it. Up until very recently those simple shapes were in the realm of artisan geometry, produced with a compass and straightedge. Today we have digital tools to design with, but that digital technology is limited if it doesn’t have the mastery  of artisan geometry to go with it. Sort of like using a calculator without knowing how to add.

Regardless if you work with an eye towards the future or to the past, this knowledge is still key to becoming the best artisan you can be. We wrote our most recent book, From Truth to Tools with that in mind and now  are offering a video series that introduces this artisan geometry through the building of a basic layout kit. Come along with us and you’ll gain a nice set of layout tools and learn the same design language that produced the most iconic works of all time.


George R. Walker