Commissioning a piece of furniture should be a pleasurable experience, filled with new insights into design, concept and making. Most of the commission process follows a three part path.
First, the ideas:
I like to visit the spaces inhabited by my clients whenever possible, in order to develop a feeling for their lives and the settings in which the furniture will live. We talk about the clients ideas, needs and desires, about the budget, the constraints, and the space. Usually the client will have an idea about style, but occasionally there are no guidelines. I return to the shop and develop the conversation into rough sketches and ideas that might work. I refine them to some extent, but I try to leave as many major groupings as I can for the client to react to. By the end of this step, we have a direction, understand materials to be used, have clarified the fees involved, and a written agreement with a timeline.
Second, the detailing:
This part of the process is where the myriad tradeoffs take place, and the detail of the project developed into actionable plans. Quite frequently I will make mock-ups and try different approaches. Sometimes surprising results will emerge, which neither I nor the client identified as possibilities earlier. At the end of this stage, the plans for the piece are completely developed, the costs known and the timeline formalized.
Third, the making:
After receiving a deposit for the work, the piece is scheduled and a completion time is agreed upon. I select the materials, develop the jigs and fixtures needed, prepare the work, and execute the plan in the workshop. The highest skills are applied to the work, turning the vision of the idea into the reality of the piece.