Design Critique follow up

Finished table

Finished table

A few weeks ago I posted a design critique from Petri in Sweden who built a table and then took on the task of designing chairs to go with it. After several versions, here’s a rough mockup of a chair design with some elements echoing his table undercarriage. Here is Petri explaining his latest iteration:


“As I wrote earlier, too much thinking always makes for more choices and revisions.
Alas, I think this is pretty close now.
So, a quick description .. the fanback will now have two equally tall centers, 120 cm, with three descending pairs to either side. The four in the middle will have zero splay but some splay to the outer pairs. Approx ten degrees rake for all.
As to the undercarriage, the frontpair will be square to the seat with the backpair raking back 25 degrees.
The dowel from the table will be mirrored with a rusty iron hexagonal rod in the front  …
As always, all input is valuable!
All the best from Sweden!


About walkerg

Woodworker and writer
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Design Critique follow up

  1. Bruce says:

    Too many initial details. Every chair book has the angles formulae. Concentrate on the overall scheme. And, design constraints.

    I think the chair sucks. It looks something like beach art. Not what works in a kitchen with grubby, dirty fingers, and food accidents. And, it is not sympathetic with the table. Maybe, that yoke thing on the table trestle could go away, so focus and harmony on the whole can happen.

    Compared to the chair, what’s wrong with two long benches?

    Oops! Need a positive. The chair should discourage dalliance at eating. Ouch! Also, wood floors should make dragging it around easier. Just add felt pads.

  2. Hi Bruce.
    Well, first off I have tried to keep myself on the straight and true with angles and design. (have bought Galbert´s and Walker´s books)
    My initial idea was to make a chair for the highend of the table, so it will never be replaced by a long bench. That is also why I have tried to make “something else” for this purpose, in this case more of a throne … hence the oversize backrest and overall impression. So, design constraints of the orthodox variety will be liberally applied to my next chairproject, which will be my second overall. This is a first for me. Both design- and executionwise.

    As for the “yoke thing”, it´s an integral thing keeping the table together, so I kinda think it stays.
    Good to hear you keep a positive attitude.
    Thanks for the input.

  3. ejcampbell says:

    The mock-up, as drawn, looks uncomfortable. You have good tilts to both the back and the seat, which are key. If the seat were well-padded and the back had a curve for lumbar support, it would be a lot more comfy and attractive. Also the even number of slats you drew is good, so that the backbone is not impinging on a slat, but rests between 2 slats.

  4. The chair will be carved out in the seat, as in the windsorchair in Galbert´s book. The mock-up doesn´t allow for better detailing in scale 1:5 for the backsupport, but they will be somewhat of a triangular shape and will have cutouts for both bottom plus some lumbar radius … will be made of two pieces of ash tapering towards the top.. a little bit of trial left to be done, that´s for sure!
    Yes, to have equal support on each side of my spine seems a good idea!

  5. Bruce says:

    Hi, Petri, my barrage of criticism was intended to force you to step back (or let your ideas rest) and then re-assess what you are doing. Critically reassess.

    I always find that thinking about one thing a long time is an invitation to like or want something that is not very good. I will twist and manipulate a design unnecessarily to force it into what I hope will work. Rather than struggle to justify the time, all of the effort spent should warn me that something is wrong in my design strategy, or wrong with the design. That is where you are in your project. I don’t care about the details from Galbert right now. You still need to make your chair work.

    I am looking at your table. I don’t see the existing chairs. The table has two slab legs (each end), and two slab top planks. There is something in the center of the top, but it is negative space, by color contrast. The table is massive. To contrast the slabby impression there is a detail between the leg slabs. It is a way to lock the two rails between the legs. It’s what I call a yoke, which serves your purpose and it keeps reminding me of oxen. Mortise and tenons.

    What chair, or chair combination will work with the table?

    List questions. How can the chairs enhance the table, and the table the chairs also? My two benches harmonize beautifully with your design. I hate sitting at benches, so I want a chair for me, me only. Can the chairs not only serve at the table but add seating for general conversation? An element of comfort is needed for this to happen. Do the chairs serve for shock value; are they an obtuse disharmony? The table material may have come from found sources, I don’t know. At this time, the table is pretty refined looking, just blocky and massive. Do you want wild looking chairs surrounding it; my previous beach art reference?

    Do the two items–chair and table–fit together? You are struggling with ‘fit’ now. I see two plank legs that no one will see or notice visually because they face the wrong way. But they will cause pain and discomfort to anyone trying to find a place to put their feet. People will also smack their heels trying to move the chair into position. And, the other element, the yoke, is a do-dad motif. It played an accent (and functional) role on the table. On the chair …. ummm, no! It’s hidden and to get it out of the way now forces an awkward position for attachment of the front legs to the seat. The yoke was an accent detail before. Now, it is making the chair busy, clumsy, because you have changed the scale of the furniture. The chair is smaller than the table. Notice I ignore your chair back slats. I don’t see the central space you identify. I see a mess of dangerous sticks.

    You need to work out the functional constraints. The table already has functional chairs in use. Do you mean to keep them, and add the drift wood chair(s)? Do the new chairs go at the ends of the table? Do you remove the existing chairs and surround the table with fire kindling? Do you really want to introduce a new design element to the set? If that element is desired, can you clean it? Will you force a spouse to clean the chairs. If you have dinner guests, do you have adequate homeowners insurance to cover injury if they fall onto the sticks? Now they are spears.

    Put all your critique (good:bad, yes:no) together and see where the balance of the design sits, or hangs. Be honest. Be ruthless. This was my list and I am definitely not happy with the results. Hopefully, I was being universal in my assessment of the project. The design failed, so I reassess and try something else.

    BTW, (By the way,) I do like the table; what I can see of it.

    I am ruthless in my own critique because time is money. I am sorry if I seem intimidating. This list I created is only a fraction of what I would do professionally. I am not a chair designer, but do it anyway, because I can. Comfort, utility, and practicality are key attributes when I design. I burn the rest.

    You still need a design for your chair(s)…. Before you open Galbert. Well, maybe, you want a good seat height and width for scale. Don’t forget what you need for personal space; especially, if Uncle Peter is toothless and spits food when he talks. Just don’t worry too much about how much you want people to sprawl when they sit down. You might like a bench, and all that angle stuff will be unnecessary, including Galbert.

  6. Hi Bruce and all!

    Well, I´ve read your critique and criticism …. and I pretty much agree. I see where the “sunk cost fallacy” is in designing goes, the point where you stick to something too long.
    I did start with a more lithe and slender model (the Schwarz legs) got some input to make it marry the table better, the metal in the chair was my idea. Which I tried.
    I had set a goal of making one/two chairs for the ends and keep the existing chairs as is for the time being.

    Well, I think I will keep my idea for the back but as for the undercarriage, I am stumped. I´ll keep doodling and sketching in my notebook for some new ideas.
    In the comments in the earlier post I posted a link to the tablebuild, there you can look at the project from start to finish. Thanks BTW!

Comments are closed.