Shop Drawings, Templates, and Working Prototypes

Once a fabricator is selected and a contract between client and fabricator is made, the fab­ricator prepares shop drawings and templates and, in some cases, produces a working prototype to test aspects of the design. Shop drawings and working prototypes represent the most detailed and explicit type of information about the design. They are made during the transitional phase between design and fabrication. Shop drawings might lead to a mock – up of a detail or indicate the need to review and modify the contract drawings. Shop draw­ings should always be reviewed and approved by the designer. These are the documents that remain well after production is over and are referred to if disputes or problems arise.

Working prototypes are useful in testing and resolving aspects of form and structure. They mark the last phase prior to producing the final work. This phase in the process of design is critical—taking carefully rendered drawings of design ideas into the most challeng­ing phase. Some furniture designers, such as Emiliano Godoy, work comfortably in making formwork and working prototypes to test and help improve design ideas. A working proto­type was made for the Weidmann chair (Figures 6.61, 6.62, and 6.63), which was helpful in studying and testing aspects of the design prior to production (Figure 6.64).

Templates and forms are often made in order to fabricate a working prototype. In some cases, templates and formwork represent a significant part of the cost of fabricating a piece of furniture. Designing and making formwork is an art unto itself, and needs to be carefully conceived and resolved. This important task is typically left to the fabricator, as are the means and methods of fabricating furniture. However, due to the inherent integration of structure, form, and aesthetics in many designs, the boundaries between design and fabri­cation often are not apparent.