Furniture Design – Intuition, Inspiration, and the Rules

I have been giving some thought to furniture design as of late. It is not a simple black and white matter. The rules of design, when followed religiously, tend to produce designs that may be acceptable, but somewhat sterile and lacking in passion.
For every rule of design there exists an exception to that rule. Every new art form, at its inception, breaks the rules in one way or another, and then proceeds to set up its own set of new rules.

On the other hand, if the rules are given little or no respect, chaos will rule instead and there is likely to be neither cohesion nor balance.

That is not to say every great designer started by making a rigorous study of the rules. I am sure there are many gifted artists whose innate sense of balance and proportion is such that a study is not necessary. Their intuition is their only guide.

For the rest of us mortals I think it necessary to make a serious study of the rules, but at some point in time – when the rules are infused into our consciousness – we must let them go. If our designs are to have fire in their souls we must allow our inspiration to ignite the process and our intuition alone to be the guide.

Last year I was reading about Louis Sullivan and came upon this quote:

“……formulas are dangerous things. They are apt to prove the undoing of a genuine art, however helpful they may be in the beginning to the individual. The formula of an art remains and becomes more and more rigid with time, while the spirit of that art escapes and vanishes forever. It cannot live in text-books, in formulas or in definitions.”

Some of you may be interested in a related essay I wrote and posted on my website:
Regulae Stultis Sunt
(Rules are for Fools)