The composite image above was my first pass at abstracting the form of a towering sandstone wall in Southern Utah. The graffiti texture is an expression of miles-thick geomorphology created from epochs of time and and extreme forces. It is an early design concept for a project that I haven't yet developed. It may become furniture. It may become architecture. It is patiently waiting in my sketchbook to provide inspiration.
During my recent travel sketching presentation at AIA,Utah I realized the emphasis I put on observing the texture of a place, whether natural or architectural. I then realized how much observed texture affects my sketches, and design concepts for our modern furniture and sculptural toys.
To clarify: I’m not talking about surface patterns like polka dot, striped, and chevron textures. I am discussing comprehensive structural texture that goes full-depth. Texture that can be abstracted, and generative.
Generative texture can come from the arrangement of buildings, layers of building features, and organization of materials:
Structural texture can come from the stratification of a landscape:
from the layers of fauna, and stacking of clouds:
or surface patinas created from atmospheric reactions to elements inherent in natural material:
My background in architecture makes me partial to architectural texture:
And my upbringing in Utah landscapes also helped me coin the terms: laminated texture, stratified texture, compounded texture, loose-fill texture, chunky texture, scattered-head texture, ear-lobe texture, weeping texture, oxidized texture, grainy texture, cleaved texture, palisade texture, shrubby texture, and my favorite: topographic texture.
Structural texture is inherent in the form and material of our products which gives them unique characteristics, quality, and aesthetic. It also enhances their durability and longevity.
Below are a few of these structural textures and the impact they have on our design process.
Compounded texture and its impact on the Tectonic Toy Snake:
Cross-grain texture and its impact on the Tectonic Conference Table:
Cleaved texture and its impact on the Tectonic Toy Bison:
Crystallized texture and its impact on the Tectonic Stool:
Fenestration texture and its Impact on the Tectonic Coffee Table:
Knotted texture and its influence on the Upend Children's Chair:
Scattered-head texture and its impact on the Tectonic Folding Chair:
Oxidized texture and its impact on the Tectonic Coffee Table:
Weeping texture and its affect on the Strata Chair:
Palisade texture and the striped pattern of the Tectonic Armchair counterpart:
Chunky texture and the Tectonic Toy Grasshopper:
Earlobe texture and the exposed end wood grain of the the Strata Chair:
Beautiful textures are all around us. Keep your eye and sketchbook open. Do what you can to enjoy them and to internalize them, but sometimes it will be years before you find the right context to synthesize them.
And when you find the right project for your new textures, consider how the surfaces, patterns and patinas will affect the functionality, the durability, and the aesthetic of your new space: