Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Longest Wall

So, here we are, 2700 hours later, 10,000 pieces of walnut, most of it challenging.  I thought I would share with you some of my thought processes as we go through this first sequence. 
 Another line Krenov said, "We must be able to do the complex well, and yet arrive at, and preserve, simplicity."  Well, I don't know how simple this room appears...I guess it is in the eye of the beholder, but this process of building a room for books and other things has been a great journey, at times very spiritual, and at times the lowest because of the overwhelming amount of work and problems to solve.  After some years of building things, you kind of have an idea of what you are in for.  You can usually see most of it in your mind before you start.  That wasn't the case here.  And that causes trouble.  I remember sitting in there the first few weeks and was crushed with the question, how are you going to do this physically and mentally?  The answer came in a sort of a funny way, "How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time."  So that is what I did.

Construction of this room started February 2007.  The first decision was determined by the size of the room as drawn up by the architect. 
This was an addition to a comfortable home with one side which allowed for a room about 17 x 27 feet.  The room steps down from the main house two feet to achieve a 12 foot height to the ceiling.  In addition we could fit a bathroom area about 10 x 10 leading out to the pool, and also a nice walk-in attic that was originally intended for extra storage but evolved into a great almost tree house feeling sort of room for visiting kids and grand kids.  I made rough sketches of each area in the room and discussed the  possibilities for each space. 

 I started looking for new ideas for inspiration, what might look good for the ultimate design and how it would blend with the overall feel.  I looked at pictures in books, magazines, furniture, houses, design, woodworking, art and watched a few movies that I remembered seeing the interior of a house or a piece of furniture.  I tried to find pictures of beautiful libraries on film and looked for ideas there.  Then I found the source of inspiration for this room.  It was in the movie "The Illusionist" The movie is set in Vienna, Austria, but this library was actually in Prague.  It was filmed at the Konopiste Castle, built at the end of the 13th century, which was bought and renovated in 1887 to be the residence of Arch Duke, Francis Ferdinand and his family, whom you might recall was assassinated in Sarajevo in 1914.  It is said that this incident ignited World War I.  Anyway the private library in that castle in the film gave me the inspiration for the starting point of this room.  The feeling was very comfortable but not too out of reach for a man who doesn't own a castle. 

I first sketched out the longest wall in the room.  We looked it over, altered it and made a few more changes until we nailed it down.  Looking back, the drawing becomes very critical for me.  Now I have something to wrap everything else around.  Everything else afterward ties into this idea.  It becomes to me, my most important breakthrough moment and relief.  The overall look seemed to flow.  Most of the options were thought out.  Proportions, book sizes, accent lighting, and layering with moldings.  The thinking was how to blend the rest of the room with the main wall. 

Left Side

Right Side


Kris said...

Jimmy...Your work is amazing!! You are a true artist!

Anonymous said...

When are you coming to arizona next ? We have a job for you. The people I work for would love you to build them a mantel for their fireplace. Do you have any pictures of Doug's mantel? I love your blog! I think it is great that you are writing your story... keep it up... we are enjoying it so much. Im sure your children are too! Tell Cari hi for me...we miss you guys! love, Chrissy