Whenever I start to get bored by a topic, I think of that iconic poster from the Vitra Design Museum depicting 224 chairs from the German museum’s vast collection of contemporary furniture. That poster reassures me there are infinite ways of looking at even the most basic thing.
What could be more boring and obvious than a chair? Yet the simple concept of a place to rest one’s butt has launched innovative forms as diverse as Gehry’s cardboard chair and Saarinen’s Womb.
Today in the Building Construction Technology classroom at TCATN, we could have made our own poster, showcasing something even more basic and boring than chairs.
Someone in the school’s administrative offices needed a series of stands upon which to display something, so they asked our class to make several 6-inch-square blocks of varying heights.
As soon as guys started rummaging through the growing pile of scrap lumber and assembling mini-podiums, I realized how many different ways there are to construct a rectangular prism.
One classmate combined four 6-inch-wide rectangles of 1.5-inch-thick Southern Yellow Pine.
Another student mitered four 6-inch strips of 2×4 and added a 6×6 plywood top.
Yet another classmate trimmed a 6×6 pressure-treated post and sanded it till the face of Sid the Sloth from Ice Age emerged from the pattern of the grain. We called it the Nun Bun of Lumber, a reference to the 1996 apparition of Mother Teresa in a cinnamon roll at Nashville’s Bongo Java Roasting Company.
When the motley assortment of cubes and columns were assembled on the grass outside the shop, to be spray-painted, I realized that, while there are rigid rules to the geometry of carpentry, there is also endless room for creativity and problem-solving.
Only a real blockhead could find woodwork boring.