The overriding design 'style' of our time could be variously described as 'contemporary', 'modern'. We eschew excessive ornament in favour of honesty of materials, form follows function. Who cares what's gone before, we live in an age of iPads and smart refrigerators, right? I remember sitting through furniture history in school and thinking that I wasn't ever going to make work in the Chippendale style, or add Greek key molding to my next project. So why learn it? Looking to the past can be a fantastic place to find inspiration, to riff on something recognizable and turn it on its head. The starkest example (couldn't help it) I can think of is the Louis ghost chair: baroque style in polycarbonate, now so iconic that knock-off's can be had at London Drugs (shudder).

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Joe and I just completed a small ‘run’ of outdoor benches in time for the warming, sunny days that have finally arrived. Designing and building for out-of-doors has a few extra challenges in that the pieces must stand up to the elements, but they can be simpler in other ways. For example, the level of detail is usually kept to a minimum, with a few simple design elements making the overall statement.

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One of our favorite projects of 2012 was a dining table, chairs and sideboard. Bill and Diane were building a home on a beautiful Gulf Island property and came to see us about the time the foundation for the house was being poured. I was impressed and pleased that the interior furnishings were being considered so early on- excellent priories in my book!

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Shoji are something that we love to build, but the opportunity doesn’t come along too often. Needless to say, when David Coulson of David Coulson Design asked us to build shoji doors for his studio, we jumped at the opportunity. David’s studio is a beautiful post and beam building with lots of large windows that look out on the native vegetation surrounding it. The architecture can be described as ‘west coast’, but when Joe and I first saw it I also saw elements of Frank Loyd Wright’s prairie style, some Spanish mission, and a bit of traditional Japanese. These elements are all present and blend together to create a very beautiful,comfortable space. Every time I’ve been there I can’t help but think, ‘yes, I could definitely live here!’ The doors David wanted were to separate the main entrance/living room from what is an office work space, but could also be used as a bedroom. He installed a track in the floor for shoji doors when he built the studio so we just needed to make the doors and a top track. Click here to visit David’s website and see his studio.

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It’s good practice from a design standpoint not to throw out or discount your crazier ideas. Its very often those ideas that are the precursor to new directions in your work. I’ve also found that being unsure or a bit uncomfortable about an idea is often a sign of growth, and not necessarily a sign that your idea is bad. Now, finding clients who are willing to indulge your creative whims, especially unproven ones, is a bit of a challenge. But every once in a while we have a client who is willing to go out on a ‘creative limb’, in fact they encourage it.

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