Monday, November 12, 2007
The Yard Sale Test
The other morning I awoke to this. As beautiful as it was, it confirmed that the next 4 months are going to be about all about firewood. By the afternoon, it was gone.
I was looking through a woodworking magazine the other morning. I like to show the projects to Sue and ask her to put them to the "yard sale test". This simply means to answer whether you would buy or even inquire to buy the finished piece at a yard sale. Of course I understand that there is no accounting for taste, we are all different. I know people who don't like anything made of wood! The point of the "yardsale test" is to look beyond the pretty wood or the effort and skill that went into a piece and to question whether it is something that you would want to live with. Would it speak to you across a yard full of plastic kids toys and exercise equipment?
Designing with wood is a challenge. It is an evershifting material that grows with all sorts of surprises. Using wood in a way that reconciles its strength, beauty and workability can be hard enough, but in the end there must be some tough questions about what has been achieved. I think that a good comparison can be made to cooking. It isn't enough to use great ingredients, the best kitchen appliances and a whole spice cabinet if the end product isn't something you'd want to eat.
As I have continued making chairs using windsor technology, I have marvelled at the brilliance of old designs that have stood the test of time and appeal to a wide array of people. I feel fortunate to have found a product that is both fun to make and to live with. The challenge for me is to add to this, not trying to reinvent the wheel. It can be intimidating. Especially when I step back and ask myself, does it pass the "yard sale test"