Review Show #11 – Unlocking the Secrets of Traditional Design

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Title: Unlocking the Secrets of Traditional Design
Run Time: 68 Minutes
Production Date: 2009
Produced By: Lie-Nielsen
Price: $25 US (Buy Now)

From the Back of the Case

Furniture is pleasing to the eye when various elements work together to create a harmonious whole. 18th Century furniture design, like architecture, relied heavily on proportional schemes derived from classical architectural orders. Today’s furniture makers can use these design principles to create contemporary or period furniture. George Walker demonstrates how to use this approach to create visual harmony.

Our Thoughts

Design is one of those topics that woodworkers either love or hate. George Walker demystifies the concepts and ideas that were previously untouchable by the average weekend woodworker. His focus on simple whole number ratios will give even the newest woodworker hope that they can design their own furniture with generally pleasing proportions. The DVD is masterfully filmed and edited and you will quickly find yourself forgetting that you are watching a woodworking DVD. Frankly, this is the highest quality woodworking-related production we have ever seen. In spite of this, the topic matter is still a little difficult to digest in one sitting, but it is definitely worth your time to do so. We feel this DVD is a must-have for ALL woodworkers who want delve into the world of design and certainly deserves a space in your reference DVD collection.

15 Responses to “Review Show #11 – Unlocking the Secrets of Traditional Design”

  1. Two years ago, we gutted and remodeled our kitchen with full custom cabinets (bought them, I didn’t build them).

    I used George’s whole number ratios for the height of the drawer fronts on the base cabinets. One cabinet with 4 drawers, 2 cabinets with 3 drawers, 4 cabinets with just one small drawer. Top drawer on all cabinets same height for symmetry and a single line around the room.

    They really do look good. Better looking and actually more functional than all the same, so I thank George for the design tips and guidelines he has in his DVD.

  2. I had heard good things about this DVD, but kind of shied away from it due to the dry nature of the subject matter. It sounds like it may be worth looking into.

  3. To put it in the words of my old art professor “Design is one of those things you have to learn, there’s nothing fun about it.” Now, as practicing designer nearly 20 years later I have to say he was right. I’ve seen so many projects where construction and media are perfect only to have the piece lessened by incorrect proportions or too much contrast. In my opinion, design decisions are just as important as wood selection and tight fitting joints. Furthermore, after mastery of jointery, isn’t the measure of great artistry and craftsmanship gauged by how well the principals of design are implemented and manipulated by the craftsman.

  4. I have never been able to read a G Walker magazine article for more than a few paragraphs. Too many deep-seated personal issues would come bubbling up from the depths. Trying to make an exciting subject rigid and dry; memories of reactions to being in a classroom; too much reliance of architectural references; attempting to chase away magic by shining bright lights on the topic; dogma sensors go off. Oh, did I mention architects?

    As a typographer and graphics production person I found architects the most difficult and unsatisfying clients to work with, other than total flakes. They had this need to align everything. Distort characters to fit a preconceived visual boxes, regardless of legibility issues; ignore goals of communication and/or entertainment if it got in the way of a desired box; refusing to create a hierarchy to grab attention and then lead a reader/viewer along your journey/message; and above all maintain symmetry to the point of entropic death.

    In Jim Tolpin’s THE NEW TRADITIONAL WOODWORKER he states that a piece (in the good old days) began with a fixed dimension. Might be material available, space limitation or purpose, such as a box that needs to hold something A x B x C. From there craftsmen would use whole number ratios to design sub-elements. I guess that sort of follows same path as GW but without mucking up the visualization by bringing in “golden ratios” or Corinthian columns.

    So these days I usually do not even look at the diagrams in GW’s articles. But gosh, you guys make a nice case to check out this DVD. If the production and presentation values are truly outstanding I am interested. Sounds like an amazingly low price for what is being offered. But in this case I have a feeling that I will still have the “I can’t go on this journey.”

    p.s. I began going even more long-winded about design and dividers vs rulers, but think that might just have a life elsewhere. Look for it on a DVD coming out soon…or not.

    I love the reviews both for the insights to various offerings as well as to make me think of presentation and communication in the larger sense. Thanks guys.

  5. Like Tom B, I too have had a hard time digesting George Walkers articles because of the technical points and think a video would be more inviting. You guys make it sound like a real must watch.

    Thanks for the time and service to the woodworking community. Keep up the great work.

  6. I’m not yet familiar with George Walker’s writing/presentation but I do appriciate in depth discussion, teaching paired with excellent presentation techniques. I haven’t yet tried to digest the golden ratio or separate period furniture styles but had had it on my list for a few years now. I’ve been woodworking for about 5 years now and am all in and with the help of forums like these I’m soaking everything in and trying new techniques. I would love to own this DVD.

  7. Being relatively new to woodworking, the info I have seen about design definitly seemed dense and difficult to get through. This DVD seems to be just right for keeping with good design work but not getting bogged down with too much difficulty. I’ll wait a couple days to buy it, just in case there will be one coming my way…

  8. I find most of the simple things I design are derived heuristically. Hmm, this fits this, my screw is this long, my wood is this dimension and on and on. It would make sense to understand these principles as applied to more than a bird house or feeder. The DVD is tempting. I find I spend money on big picture things more than on projects. Count me intrigued.

  9. I find design to be one of those things that take the most time in the shop. Sitting there really doing nothing trying to figure out what looks the best. I am excited for this DVD to make that time spent more useful.

  10. Hey, I was listen to the show like I do ever week, and I though I would actually send in a tip. You guys were talking about adding texture to the handle of a fishing net. I use a painting product I learned about in a painting class. You can get at most art supplies, or from Blick Art Supplies.
    here is the link
    Hope this helps.
    Joe Ledington
    Sleepydog Woodworking

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