Growing up I was not a fan of wood. At our house, cottage and neighbor’s houses, wooden furniture consisted mainly of two kinds. First was a generic bland, almost grainless medium brown McWood type of furniture. The typical coffee or end table you’d get from a department store.
The second type was oak. Oak furniture, particularly mission style seemed to be all over the place. Some people like oak, I’ve never been a fan. Between the two I felt wood was a material of the past. When I got my first place to live I went for a very modern look which given budget at the time consisted mostly of black foil Ikea furniture. But hey, at least it was solid black. Furniture fabrics were blue/greys and accent pieces were glass and metal.
As I got older I realized there was two styles of wood furniture that I did like. The first was the lighter brown, semi-ornate British style best exemplified by the furniture sold by the Bombay Company. I like the many curves, design and proportion of the pieces. When I was married, our house had a lot of Bombay Company furniture.
However two things bothered my about the furniture. First the wood was a bland, grainless generic tropical wood of completely unknown species. Second the pieces were almost always a single colour. I like the design but the furniture certainly didn’t celebrate the wood that it was made from.
As I got into woodworking I watched a lot of the New Yankee Workshop. While I loved watching Norm turn a pile of wood into furniture, virtually none of the pieces he built did anything for me. As anyone who has watched Norm built a lot of reproductions of earlier American furniture. This style I found often impractical as our houses are vastly different than back then. I didn’t dislike everything (Shaker stuff appealed to me), but there was no way my home would ever fit a highboy. I also just generally didn’t like the style.
Getting back into woodworking a second time I discovered David Marks. This was a major revelation on many levels. First it was “yeah, now that’s real woodworking”, second it was a style that I loved – a mix of modern, studio and asian-influenced and most importantly it was woodworking that primarily celebrated wood. This crystallized to me why over my life I liked some pieces and not others.
This is what I’m talking about!
My current taste is thus furniture that that shows off the wood, almost always has at least two contrasting species and often has at least some signature element of a piece of wood with a really beautiful pattern. This I knew was the style of furniture I wanted to build.