Design Critique Revisit

Back in May, Robert Horton asked for help designing an alter table for a church sanctuary. Link to original design critique. It was a unique situation, trying to satisfy the needs of a committee, and in this case explore the re-purposing of some Gothic columns for a small table. Hopefully our input helped Robert solidify his thoughts and in this case, wipe the slate clean and start anew. Given that the table will sit in the foreground with a large Gothic window as a backdrop, I think he struck onto something simple yet powerful. Here are his comments and drawings for the revamped design. Thanks Robert for sharing your thoughts and demonstrating the wisdom of letting go and taking a different tack!

When last we left off, I had sent in a sketch for recycling some old church furnishings into a new altar.  The attempt to recycle the existing neo-gothic carvings produced a Frankenstein’s monster.  It was a curious exercise; but I went back to the drawing board and started with a clean sheet.

End View

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6 Responses to Design Critique Revisit

  1. ejcampbell says:

    I love the new design. It is lighter, more graceful, and stronger than the original. Very appropriate for a house of word hip.

  2. rjrobinson says:

    I’m nobody, but for me, the base components feel WAY too light given the proposed thickness of the top. If you’re married to using the interplay between positive and negative space with the base components, I’d again use fewer of them and make the thicker. The end view looks a little out of balance – have you tried drawinf where you take the feet out to the same distance as the top and make the bulk of the base wider? That would feel more altar-like to me. As is, the feet to top relationship make it look like it’s trying to be a too-wide hall table or a too-tall coffee table. One more plug for thicker components in the base: as proposed, the base might turn virtually invisible from a distance (at least when viewed straight-on).

  3. Gothy says:

    rjr is right on the money – those legs are way too thin, visually. Fatten them up, or use some more gothic elements in the middle to give it more visual support.

  4. J. Leko says:

    This design is good, albeit a little top-heavy. I think that the scale of the arch members is adequate if you bulk up the base. Like the flair of a tree trunk where it meets the ground, it will anchor the piece while preserving the open feeling. ($0.02)

  5. Ron Dennis says:

    If the thickness of the top portion is required, consider splaying the feet outward toward the ends of the top. This will mitigate tor top-heavy nature of the design.

  6. Jeromey says:

    Two things:
    1 – I agree with the comments on the piece needing a better balance between the thickness of the top and the thickness of the members of the base. There is also an opportunity to go with ogive arches meeting in the center of the table, along with the arch in the front and back. This reduces the number of elements, but provides visual interest from a wider viewing angle.

    2 – The interesting part is that unlike most of the furniture we create, you’re actually creating a piece of sacred furniture. What I mean by that is that when we usually try to tell a story with a piece of furniture, the symbols we use are generally very personal. With sacred furniture (whatever the tradition), you have a huge library of shared symbolism that you can draw on. In the Christian tradition, this includes the significance of the number 3, the importance of the cross, etc. The use of Gothic elements is also appropriate, since so much of that era in European history was defined by the church. My suggestion is to see if there are elements of that shared symbolism you can use to make the altar tell more of the story.

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