Designer’s Notebook: John Reed Fox – Design, slowed down
A kitchen tansu seen in Japan inspired Fox to combine sliding doors and drawers in his tall dresser. The design process starts with a sketch, then evolves to a full-scale mockup and eventually the dresser itself.
For me, design evolves slowly. I am not enamored of newness. Instead I use a familiar vocabulary of line and form that I attempt to refine within each piece. My goal is to make furniture that is functional and elegant and helps create a quiet, centered, contemplative environment.
When I designed this piece, I had it in mind to build a dresser with a not-so-typical front elevation. Originally I was thinking of a long, low piece but in the end I went for something tall. The idea of mixing sliding doors with drawers was inspired by seeing kitchen tansu on a trip to Japan. To my eye the combination creates a very interesting visual rhythm. The doors also gave me a chance to add texture to what is usually a large, flat surface. And people find them very inviting. Almost everyone who sees this piece opens or at least touches them. They make the dresser somehow less formal or standoffish.
I arrived at the size and location of the doors by playing with the different elements of the front on paper. I made the three lower drawers all the same size, rather than graduating them, since I felt there was already plenty going on in the piece. The dresser stands just over 4 ft. tall, so one can see over and around it, which helps keep it feeling friendly and intimate.
I want the dresser to have a solid but graceful transition to the earth. This imparts a certain sense of stillness. But I also want the piece to have lightness and delicacy. The legs taper slightly wider at the bottom to give the dresser a solid stance, and I hope the taper adds to the lightness of the piece and keeps it visually tall and narrow. The legs are proud…