Principles of Furniture Design & Construction
Stickley goes over the basics necessary for proper furniture design work and how they should be taught in woodworking schools.
Principles & Rules of Furniture Design
¶ There is no objection to any worker, however inexperienced, attempting to express his own individuality, but the natural thing would be for him to express it in more or less primitive forms of construction that are, so far as they go, correct, instead of attempting something that, when it is finished, is all wrong because the student has not understood what he was about. Unquestionably there are certain principles and rules as to design, proportion and form that are as fundamental in their nature as are the tables of addition, subtraction, division and multiplication, with relation to mathematics, or as the alphabet is as a basis to literature, but they are not yet formulated for general use. The trained worker learns these things by experience and comes to have a sort of sixth sense with regard to their application, but this takes strong direct thinking, keen observation and the power of initiative that is possessed only by the very exceptional and highly skilled workman.
Development of Individuality
¶ Nevertheless it surely is as easy to begin work in the right way as in the wrong way. It would be better if all our teaching of manual training were based upon some text book carefully compiled by a master workman and kept within certain well defined limits. After the student had thoroughly learned all that lay within these limits and was grounded in the principles of design and construction as carefully as he would be grounded in mathematics or classical literature, he might safely be trusted to produce something that would express his own individuality, for then, if ever, he would have developed an individuality that was worth while. And this principle applies as well to amateur workers of all kinds as it does to the students in the public schools, for it is the basis of all work that is worthy to endure.
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