Category Furniture Design

Introduction to Furniture Design

Dictionary and encyclopedic sources use words like accessories, equipment, and movable objects to define furniture.1 Words can describe the performance and physical characteris­tics of furniture, but those who design, make, and use furniture know that furniture design extends far beyond dictionary or encyclopedic definition. Furniture design concepts lead to the production of useful items that result in tactile experiences (Figure 1.1). In nearly every case, furniture is something people experience through direct human engagement. In addition, one’s understanding and knowledge of furniture evolves with use and over time.

Designing furniture relies on intuition, judgment, design skills, engineering principles, and knowledge in a broad range of disciplines helpful with problem solving...


Foreword to the First Edition

The field of furniture design is strangely diverse. It does not have a well-established defini­tion and is not regularly studied in colleges or universities.

It is also odd to remember that most of the world’s population does not make use of furniture except, perhaps, for a few stools or benches. Western civilization, however, begin­ning thousands of years ago, has become addicted to the use of furniture of the most varied sort. In the modern world, we are in touch with furniture at almost every moment. We sit in chairs, work and eat at tables, sleep in beds, and are hardly ever out of sight of a number of furniture items, for better or for worse.

Furniture is now produced and distributed for homes, for offices, for schools, for hospi­tals, and for every other situation in which people a...



Few objects carry with them the historical and technical heritage of furniture. A chair is not only an object for seating but also a flag-bearer for the cultural specificities of the soci­ety where it was made and used. Furthermore, the magic of furniture is that, through daily use, social context is influenced in an ongoing and evolving two-way dialogue.

Given the fact that basically everyone is in constant contact with a wide variety of fur­niture pieces on a daily basis, it is very strange that designing furniture is not the core theme of several undergraduate and postgraduate programs. One would think that after thou­sands of years of making, using, repurposing, and disposing of furniture we would have a comprehensive and structured understanding of the lifecycle of these objects...



Many individuals contributed to the first edition of this book. To those who took time to discuss and comment on the manuscript drafts, contribute drawings or photographs, pro­vide information, resources, ideas, and encouragement, I am sincerely grateful.

For the past 25 years, I have taught in the School of Architecture and Interior Design within the College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning at the University of Cincinnati. DAAP is composed of many design disciplines and has a long history of cooperative practice providing students with professional internships in firms across the country and around the world. DAAP provides a design-centered, collaborative environment...


Furniture Design

Alvar Aalto (1898-1976), Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868-1928), and Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959) were architects who integrated custom furnishings into their buildings and interior spaces (Figure P-1). Interior designers such as Eileen Gray (1878-1976), Yoshiharu Hatano (b. 1946), Eva Maddox (b. 1944) and Andree Putnam (b. 1925) are renowned for their skill in blending textures and furnishings with interior space. Henry Dreyfuss (1904-1972) and Bill Stumpf (1936-2006) were industrial designers who utilized industrial manufacturing processes in their furniture designs. Woodworkers and artisans such as Wendell Castle (b. 1932), Sam Maloof (1916-2009), George Nakashima (1905-1990), and Pierluigi Ghianda (b...