Furniture Maker Designs With Math

By Zac Schultz | November 17, 2016


“I love waking up in the morning and coming to work.”  It sounds a little odd at first, but Richard Judd the furniture maker is a lot like his work: minimal, simple, and above all- functional.  “I’ve always had the architecture mind of form follows function, and I always took pride in that. I’m making art form, but they function.”

Richard Judd has created a series of pieces that seem light and whimsical, and perhaps even random.  But each piece is centered around an ancient mathematical concept.  “It’s not just randomly drawn, it’s very carefully drawn so it uses the golden rectangle.”

The golden rectangle is based on the golden ratio, a proportion often described as the hidden math behind beauty. It shows up in art, nature and even the human body.

Richard Judd first used the golden ratio when designing his signature piece, a spiral table.  “I don’t know what precipitated the idea, but I kept drawing a spiral table.  I was just obsessed with that spiral form, I based it on the geometry of a nautilus seashell.  So it’s the golden rectangle, the Fibonacci sequence of a spiral.”

It was a hit. The spiral table remains his best seller, and Richard Judd has a mathematical formula for artistic success.  “Every time I try to create a new design, I am hoping it’s going to be that great design, but this one was really the home run.”

Richard Judd’s other calling card is the part of his work that is most unlike him, exotic wood veneer. His favorite wood is called pomelle sepele from Central West Africa.  “It’s just got such a gorgeous depth of grain.”

As for new designs, the golden ratio goes on to infinity, but Richard Judd only has eight feet to work with. “I’m also restricted to the length of the veneer and ply that I’m working with, which tends to be 8 feet. So sometimes the drawing, something will look great in a drawing, but it needs more than 8 feet. But I could, I’m still coming up with designs within the restriction of just the bending the wood, bending the ply.”

Richard Judd uses the golden ratio to make beautiful furniture, and a similar formula to enjoy life, “Follow your bliss. And really just what you would love and enjoy and love doing for your day. The majority of our waking day is working, so to really love what you’re doing is just a real gift.”

Zac Schultz

Zac Schultz is a reporter for the “Wisconsin Life” project who thinks three-minute stories and one-line bio descriptions are woefully brief.
2018-01-19T17:53:07-06:00Tags: , , |

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