I have been contemplating video for my blog. Specifically, I am thinking about a slideshow type video with me narrating the construction of a past project which I called the Scott Bookcase. Why? I really don’t think a visitor to my blog is going to take the time to page through all of the posts of that project or any of my projects for that matter. But a brief video might be the trick.
A key part of building the Scott Bookcase was the design process which involved a few meetings with the client along with some emails being exchanged. I am not sure if the video will ever come to pass, but I can at least preview what I plan to say in this blog post. So, here is an overview of how the design went down.
The initial client meeting
The client, a friend of mine, called wanting a bookcase, probably painted, which would reside along a wall in his family room. The size was to be seven feet tall and six feet wide. The house is traditional in nature; various moldings trim out the rooms, so the bookcase needed to have the same feel.
I met with my friend and his wife in their home and instead of using my portfolio of finished pieces, I simply brought my laptop and the three of us brainstormed a little. Being able to connect to my blog where I have a selection of my finished projects was very beneficial. When an idea would pop up, I was often able to go to one of my completed projects, or a specific blog post, to discuss how the idea would impact the bookcase design.
After my planning meeting, I had enough information to begin the design process which initially included two options…
The first option
I really like the look of this bookcase, especially the front view. I wanted to include something different for the base; different from the baseboard style element that I had used several times before (here and here) and I didn’t want to venture into bracket feet due to the complex nature of fabricating them. My client was very agreeable to making the bookcase as easy to construct as I wanted it to be, so considerations like this were very agreeable to them. The bun feet which I liked was not to their liking, so this design was scrapped.
The basic difference between this design and the first one is the width of the top case, which is wider, and the base design.
My client was ready to go with this design option, but I wanted to get away from the boxy look. I offered this design thinking the simplified look would be easiest to build and the base moldings are a nice alternative to the bun feet in the first design. But, I felt that this option missed a visual hook; something the makes the piece a little more interesting to look at.
I told my clients I would meet with them again and offer a tweak to design #2.
The third, over-the-top design
As I thought about the third design, my imagination really got the best of me. I began visualizing this bookcase as a showcase piece; something that would be a great portfolio builder. This design would be a win-win for me and my clients: a portfolio enhancer for me and a great bookcase for them.
The original hand drawn illustration included not only a front and side view, but a view looking down from the top as well as up from the bottom. These additional views helped me organize the various parts needed to make this design. But the additional views also indicated how complicated and time consuming this project would have been. This option was never presented to the client and remains only a design idea.
This is what the clients finally approved. It merges some elements from the previous designs as well as a couple of new ideas.
The overall shape of this design was borrowed from a project featured in Glen Huey’s book, “Fine Furniture for a Lifetime.” I had always wanted to make something with this profile and my clients were ultimately very pleased with the results. If I had it to do over, I would probably make the lower case a little taller.
For those of you that do custom work, how does this kind of design consultation compare with yours? In the future, I hope to actually fire up SketchUp and do some brainstorming on the basic shape of a project right in front of the client. I don’t know how practical this would be, but it seems to me this would go a long way towards pulling the client into the design process.