In the early 20th century, furniture maker Gustav Stickley was famous for his solid oak Craftsman furniture. Also called “Mission” or “Arts & Crafts,” this stout, no-frills style is as popular today as it was over a century ago. Stickley’s straightforward designs—made of quartersawn white oak with prominent joinery—were intended to be an “honest” alternative to the fake joinery, gaudy frills, and shoddy work found on much of the mass-produced furniture of the time.
The cells in a tree perform an intricate symphony, harmonizing water, soil nutrients, carbon dioxide, and sunlight into a living composition that produces habitat, oxygen, shade, and beauty. But the music dramatically changes when a tree transitions into lumber. Some of the tree’s previously hidden features can display incredible beauty, but the walls of some empty cells appear as prominent pores that can be completely out of tune with your project.
Historical, utilitarian furniture is one of my favorite sources for design inspiration, and the vernacular fireside stools of Northern Europe are especially appealing for their dainty yet sturdy stances. Traditionally used as a perch for creeping close to the warmth of a hearth or tending to a fire, these simple stools’ short stature and splayed legs pack a lot of character and woodworking skills into a quick project.