Designer’s Alphabet, O is for ……..

HABS photo, Central Park NY

HABS photo, Central Park NY

durer-latin-o is for Fredrick Law Olmsted (B. 1822 – D. 1903), arguably the premier landscape designer in America. His list of public parks and landscapes across the US and Canada is unmatched and chances are, any great park that comes to your mind was either designed by Olmsted or hugely impacted by his ideas about design.

Here’s a link to a site to learn more about Olmsted and his legacy. One part of his legacy was to articulate a set of principles or guidelines to inform a design. This brief statement below is but one of his maxims quoted from the above site.

A Genius of Place

“The design should take advantage of unique characteristics of the site, even its disadvantages.   The design should be developed and refined with intimate knowledge of the site.”

His genius of place struck me as especially applicable to furniture design. The part about taking advantages of unique characteristics, even disadvantages – reminds me of our love of using the quirks found in wood to enhance a design. We celebrate that burled or figured grain even emphasizing what might have been a defect, making it a focal point of interest and discovery.

Maple burl drawer front, Photo by author

Maple burl drawer front, Photo by author

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About walkerg

Woodworker and writer
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