So what is “Functional Art”?

Functional Art is the term I have coined to describe objects that are carefully and deliberately designed and constructed to be both highly functional and very beautiful.  We are surrounded these days by things that are cheap, but that are not very well designed, not very well made, and butt ugly to boot.

There are of course exceptions to this rule and the Apple products are perhaps the best example of this.  Have you every looked carefully at a MacBook Pro?

Or an iPod Nano?  These are truly beautiful objects that not only look wonderful but deliver a wonderful level of performance and functionality.  The popularity of the Apple products is proof positive of the hunger that is out there for beautiful things that really work. When was the last time you saw people queuing all night outside a store to buy a Nokia?

The key to creating functional art lies in paying close attention to the details that really matter and in woodworking there are 4 things that need focus.  These are:

  • Design and function
  • Choice of timber
  • Craftsmanship
  • Finish

It’s only by attending to each of these that we can hope to create something outstanding.  If  your project is badly designed, it matters not that you have constructed it with great accuracy, or made it from the most finely figured lumber, or finished it perfectly.  It’s still a badly designed piece.

I don’t expect that everything I make will be worthy of the title “Functional Art”, but I do intend to try.


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