Won the battle

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I once had a commission from an architect to build several dining tables he had designed for clients. He saw himself as the next Frank Lloyd Wright and the three designs he gave me were obviously take offs of Wright's designs.

But what the heck, it was work and furniture, not cabinets, so off to the races I went.

One of the tables was constructed of three different woods – walnut, cherry and maple – sandwiched together in layers with sliders for the extensions captured between leg/stretcher elements. It really was not a bad design but all the different contrasting woods made it look a bit busy.

One of the pieces of walnut had a small streak of sapwood on one edge. When he saw that he went ballistic. I pointed out that the whole design of the table was based on contrast and that the piece that had the little sapwood streak was a really nicely figured piece. After a long discussion, during which he tried to talk me into rebuilding the entire table, it was decided to bring the client in to see the table.

When they client and the architect arrived, the architect ran straight to the table pointing excitedly at the "flaw" and saying, "See? Doesn't that look terrible?" So I was thinking that the client was not really being given the chance to make an objective evaluation after all. The client looked a bit confused as if he was supposed to be as distressed as the architect, even though he did not feel that the bit of sapwood was a problem.

In the end, it was decided to simply color the streak, something that I had offered to the architect at the outset and that had been soundly rejected. The architect was not happy with this even though the client was, and we never did business again. I won that battle but lost the war.

In the long run maybe I was better off for that but I often wonder if I had "sucked it up" to make the guy happy, how much more furniture work might have come my way.

D.D.

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