WoodSkills Issue 02 - Page 34


WS: In a few of your pieces you incorporate mechanical movements and puzzle mechanisms? You obviously have a mechanical aptitude. What are the origins of featuring these complex mechanisms in your work? Is there a historical precedence of including mechanical elements in furniture?

CT: My background is as a mechanical engineer so I suppose I have always had an interest in mechanical mechanisms and moving parts. I began incorporating these mechanisms in my furniture a few years ago after seeing some the work by David Roentgen from the 17th and 18th century in a video from the Metropolitan Museum on YouTube. The pieces he created with a team of watchmakers, jewelers and furniture makers is mind blowing in complexity. It astounds me that he was able to create pieces of such complexity at a time when there were no computers, no CAD, no CNC and only minimal equipment.

Roentgen wasn’t the only one making mechanical furniture in that time, there were a number of makers creating highly complex mechanical work around the same time period. There seems to have been a market for these one of a kind pieces with the extremely wealthy of that age that doesn’t exist in the same form now. The mechanical movements I have in my work are just the very beginnings of what can be done mechanically in furniture and I hope to continue exploring more complex designs as time allows. This is a field I wish to delve into in much greater detail.

WS: How would you describe your current work and what inspires it?

CT: My current work continues to explore mechanical movement and I’ve begun incorporating puzzle mechanisms into the furniture as a way of making the furniture more interactive. I’ve become a bit bored with making more traditional furniture and want my work to have something more, at the moment the something more is mechanics and puzzles. One day it might just be something else but for the moment I’m enjoying creating pieces that are interactive and mechanically complex. I can’t say what specifically inspires this type of work as there really aren’t very many folks making pieces like these (you could count them on one hand and still have a few fingers left over) but I suppose it still goes back to the work of David Roentgen, seeing his furniture started me on the journey into mechanical furniture and I’m just seeing where that will take me.


Craig Thibodeau San Diego, CA USA

Photo by Craig Carlson