Ming Furniture in the Light of Chinese Architecture

Sarah Handler, Ming Furniture in the Light of Chinese Architecture, Ten Speed Press, 2005

Most large beds have a canopy, which approximates the walls and roof of a house. Thus, a house within a house. The difference between them is not only size, but also function. The actual house has a floor to stand on. The house within the house was for sitting, sleeping, or making love and conceiving sons. Chinese beds are used for seating during the day and for sleeping at night.

Tansu: traditional Japanese cabinetry

Ty & Kiyoko Heineken, Tansu: traditional Japanese cabinetry, Weatherhill 2004

Comparisons cannot easily be made with the great decorative furniture traditions of Europe and China. Japanese chests are not stationary furniture. Rather, they can accurately be described as mobile cabinetry, used by the individual to keep personal possessions and clothing outside of the season for which they were intended, by the merchant to store important records and valuables, and by the family for ready access to objects of daily use. Tansu were kept in storehouses adjacent to homes and businesses, in storage rooms, on the raised area of a shop, and on some coastal ships for the owner or captain. With only a few exceptions, they were not visible in the house except at certain times and in specific situations. It is perhaps due to the fact that tansu have been judged according to the same criteria as conventional furniture that they have not until recently begun to gain international recognition.

The literal meaning of tansu(箪笥) is a box or a food container made of bamboo.

The Shaker Legacy

Christian Becksvoort, The Shaker Legacy : perspectives on an enduring furniture style, The Taunton Press 1998

When we study the furniture, we can’t point to any single design element or construction technique that is exclusively Shaker. The woodworkers didn’t do anything different than their brethren in the outside world, but they often did it better. Spiritually committed to both the process and the product of furniture making, they practiced scrupulous craftsmanship and built pieces that combined grace and function. Design, materials, and construction came together in a spirit that is unquestionably “Shaker.”

Sam Maloof, Woodworker

Sam Maloof, Sam Maloof, Woodworker, Kodansha USA 2013

The rewards of woodworking are not monetary. It is a long road. But there is basic, deep, emotional satisfaction as well as a spiritual satisfaction that comes from working with your hands.

So often the American craftsman thinks that nothing can be accomplished without all the tools and inventions available on the market, or he might go to the opposite extreme and opt for antique hand tools. But while his attention is captured by tools and techniques, simple, direct ways of doing things are overlooked or forgotten. It is not a matter of nostalgia or romantic feeling for the past: the commonsense answer is the simplest one.