August 28, 2009

Finding Typographic Matter at a Furniture Repairer’s Workshop—and Digressing in a Good Way

One of the wooden chairs that surround my dining table recently broke (the hard way, by force of gravity). I finally seized weekend time to get it fixed and discovered a conveniently located wooden furniture repairer via Like finding typographic matter during my trip to New York City last January, another revelation awaited me amidst the repair shop’s arrangement of distressed chairs, tables and dressers: Several pages from mid-century modern furniture manuals.

It appeared that the spine and covers were gone—don’t know why nor how and assuming that it was more usable to have them dispersed, in order to work on separate projects simultaneously. But the spreads themselves had a layout that was refreshing to see. Though the justification alignment of text had holes in spacing, the incorporation of photographs, penciled renderings, solid background colors, and in particular, diagrams piqued my interest:

Indulging in the book spreads led to another find residing close by—A handbook about the construction of mobiles:

The furniture repairer mentioned that it’s a new hobby. He admired, as I do, the work of Alexander Calder.

Further panning the furniture repairer’s workshop, I fixated on an “old-school” pencil sharpener. I expressed my liking for it, more engrossed in its geometry than the streamlined form of electric pencil sharpeners:

The furniture repairer then showed me another pencil sharpener, matching in mechanics but presenting a different shape. His reviving of furniture matched his fondness for other objects sharing the same timeline. Perhaps our nostalgic chat, beyond the original intention for my visit, was a superficial digression. But I think it benefited the comfort level between a new customer and a business owner desiring new business.

If there’s a tendency to express curiosity over objects—whether they are books or manual pencil sharpeners, and if that curiosity is appropriate—it’s a tendency that should be nurtured. It could cultivate a shared interest, or in this case, incite multiple points of fascination. This impulsive string of discoveries was a celebration of culture, printed and sharpened, in this encounter.

I left with an impression of like-mindedness. On my drive home, I felt, with confidence, that the broken chair was in capable and compassionate hands.