How designs are born

I have often been asked, as I am sure every other artisan has been asked, “Where do you get your ideas? Where do your designs come from?”

Sometimes I wonder what people who ask such questions are thinking. Maybe they have never experienced an euphonious moment or had a dream like the one Jorma Kaukonen had in which he heard his brilliant guitar instrumental, “Embryonic Journey,” in its entirety. Maybe some people just don’t get ideas. My wife gets so many ideas that I have considered putting up a website called where people who found themselves short of ideas could, for a small fee, download some.

But for me the truth is that ideas usually come out of situations that, for one reason or another, took a somewhat different path than the one I had originally envisioned. Some flaw that needed to be covered up or a shortage of a certain wood, maybe due to a miss-cut. Sometimes, right in the middle of a project, I see something that I had not anticipated and then I have to decide if I will incorporate it into the project at hand or use it on the next one. Rarely do I get a complete vision of something before I begin to work on it.

I would invite anyone who has ever wondered where ideas come from to watch this video.



  • Very Good!
    I’m 71, been woodworking for around 60 years. I’m a graphic & dimensional designer. For graphics I kept a (morgue) of anything I liked in files. Need an idea? Pile copies of clippings on the drawing table and find inspiration. From there it’s off to the mechanical. We called it back in school “creativity on demand”.


  • AJ says:

    Just as the old expression that says “necessity is the mother of invention”, I believe the same could be applied to creativity and design. I have found that when we have unlimited finacial resources or material supplies for a project, we tend to take the “easy” way out and design and build something expected. When we are forced to use material on hand or a limited supply of a particular material to accomplish a task, I believe that it encourges us to think more creatively. Various folk art items created from disgarded items is a good example of this.

  • kevin says:

    I have developed a method of thumbnail sketches, and like “pop” Golden, I too keep a scrap book of clippings.

    I believe you have to train yourself to see designs everywhere. In everyday objects, nature, etc. I have begun to see elements of good design in items not related to furniture,but can see how it can be applied to a peticular project.

    My sketchbook is always close by to note ideas as they come, before they are lost to the flotsum and jetsum of my cluttered mind.

    Eventually I will return to these “ideas” to create a new design.

    If you are present and available to see designs, they begin to just jump out at you.

    Think of it like owning a VW, Once you own one ,they seem to be everywhere, when before you barely noticed…

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