The Influence of Ikebana on My Furniture
by Cynthia Kingsbury

In the art of ikebana, it is essential to become attuned to the line and specific character of whatever material that comes into your hands. It is by working with their unique qualities that you ultimately create a satisfying composition.

tableMy mindset is the same when I am searching through piles of driftwood debris on the beach to find materials for my next project. Where is the movement in this branch? At what angle does it best show this movement? What could I use with it that would complement--as opposed to overpower--it? I love asking these questions, and listening to the piece/ material for the answers.


branchesThe choice to use un-milled wood. This shift in starting point is also a shift in consciousness: it is the woodworker saying to the wood, "I want to go with what you've got;" "I like that curve you've got going there; how can we best show it off?" The rustic furniture maker is essentially looking to the tree for its basic expression.

I also enjoy pushing the limits of functional design: how much and where can one "blur" the symmetry of a chair and still have it be useful, even comfortable? Asymmetry is one of ikebana's most distinguishing characteristics, and a quality that keeps these arrangements visually interesting for a lot longer than something entirely symmetrical.


Thus, although the furniture that I make must be primarily symmetrical to suit gravity and the human body, I enjoy the challenge of incorporating irregularties in wood and line that strike a lively and unusual balance.

chairAnother example: you will find unpredictable spaces in many of my pieces. This is rooted in my attraction to ikebana compositions that enclose a space--often with just a few dramatic branch lines--and then have something "play" in it. I find this very dynamic, and it's something I try to accomplish in my furniture design.

- o -

next article >>
Contact Cynthia Kingsbury:
portfolio | placing an order | articles | sustainability | origins | japanese garden | home