Quiet but not silent.
That's what I'm aiming for anyway. In a long conversation, you don't need to get everything out all at once. A piece of furniture that will be a part of your home for a while doesn't need to shout, nor should it. My goal is a piece that presents itself gradually, revealing clues and quirks in bits. It should be a nice fit at first, but also something you grow into. A pleasant enough introduction that grows into a warm, quiet friendship. Yes, I'm still talking about furniture.
In the Japanese culture there is a term, shibui, which equates to a simple, subtle and unobtrusive beauty. It also implies a simplicity that overlays a deeper complexity which reveals itself gradually to the viewer over time. My work is not a conscious embrace of this philosophy, in fact I didn't stumble across the term until fairly recently. It was more a matter of realizing once I had discovered it that I had been on that path for quite a while. Truth has a way of doing that.
Another japanese concept, wabi sabi (no, not the spicy green mustard), fits in with my work. It's the notion of the bitter-sweet melancholy associated with the impermanence of life. Deep right? Think of it as the beauty imparted by age, and even decay. A tumbled-down rock wall in the woods, a weathered barn, a rusting tractor. For me it means that a piece must age gracefully. That the state of newness is not necessarily the ideal, but just a temporary blip on its timeline. The ornamentation in my work comes mostly from the joinery itself, the strength and beauty of the piece entwined with one another. And where you can see two pieces connecting, you can typically feel it as well, the eye and hand also entwined. "So Mike, I noticed a lot of the joints in your furniture kind of stick out." Yes, that's another way of saying it...