Black Swan, my first furniture design

water colour Black Swan by Paul Chilton

The training wheels are now off – I’ve completed all ‘set projects’ given to me by the school and am now wobbling my way around making my first piece of furniture, a hallway table called “Black Swan”.

This design has been on the boil ever since I started the course six months ago, and evolved from my awkward, ill-proportioned and over-embellished early sketches to what you see here in the water colour above.

A Magnum Opus it’s not, but it’s a design that represents some themes I wanted to explore and use to inform the story of the design.

In short, Black Swan draws inspiration from the echoes of the complex intertwined relationship between old Australia and new, and in parallel reflects my own more immediate experience. The legs are poised in dance, flexing in a compression – fitting of either the corroboree or the ballet, or of course the curvature of the neck of a swan.

Ebonised by the reaction of the oak’s tannins and iron oxide, the black not only symbolises the colour of Australia’s endemic equivalent to England’s royal bird, but is equally a nod to the charred trunks of a summer bush fire.

The top, made from English Pear with its gentle autumnal hues, subtle figure and manicured sunburst will rest with its restrained proportions atop the legs… with a slight air of detachment. The apparent separation between the two is challenged by the legs cutting unyieldingly up and through the carcass to the top.

I’ve wanted to incorporate traditional elements of cabinetry design without being a slave to it. Most importantly, I hope this piece will walk that delicate line between being bold and being self indulgent… but that will ultimately be your call.

In my following posts I’ll talk about its construction, sustainability and some of the challenges I’ve come across. And in a few month’s time I look forward to showing you the finished piece.

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