Rebuilding as a Redefining Moment

"For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them”. ~Aristotle
As an architect, most of my experiences are heavily rooted on learning from direct experience, a philosophy of education I embraced since joining Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin more than sixteen years ago. At Taliesin I learned about architecture through building, using my own hands, from mixing concrete for a desert masonry wall to mimicking processes in nature as sources for design. The experience revealed the learning process as a redefining moment about the built environment particularly when we had to rebuild a wall several times due to mishaps.

A few weeks ago I came full circle with this philosophy when I participated in Thos. Moser’s Maine Event as one of eight architects and interior designers chosen to experience a condensed Customer-In-Residence Program. Thos. Moser, a company known for fine wood furniture pieces and craftsman of chairs for five living US Presidents and the Pope, teamed me up with their master craftsman, Teak, like the wood, to build a designer table worthy of being an heirloom.

Planks of Cherry wood
Building the Wing Hall Table started with selecting lumber from the stacks at Rough Mill. It was like a spectacle of spiritual specification when I handpicked the cherry lumber with the right grain pattern that would breathe life into the table. The two parallel cathedral grain patterns meeting at the middle of the plank would portray the abstractions of my parallel architectural trajectories. This would be the story it would celebrate, I told myself.

Image by Thos. Moser
When I played with the power sander like an unsupervised kid in a playground, it became a moment of reflection and repose. The master craftsman had me repeat the process of power sanding until the table surface felt almost silky smooth to touch. It made me recall that masonry wall I had to rebuild at Taliesin several times and what that meant for me as an architect. By the time we completed the table, I knew every dowel I installed in the joint intimately, and had molded the surface edge profile like a sculptor to a sculpture.

There was also an unmistakeable bond formed with my shop mates as a result of building together, which in retrospect, was also present when I built and rebuilt with the Taliesin Fellowship.

As I looked at the parallel grain patterns on the table surface, now glowing in natural luster after I airbrushed it with oil, an abstraction of images appeared in my mind. They were like ripples of water washing over land and yet the beauty of its patterns only became apparent after a heavy blow of pressurized oil against its surface. At the culmination of the crafting of this heirloom, global news spread like wildfire that the strongest storm to hit the earth made landfall in the Philippines, where I’m also licensed as an architect. It became a redefining moment with a metaphorical message that in rebuilding, there is a reason for hope, because the beauty of the unknown is waiting to be revealed, like wood grain patterns glowing in natural luster. It’s time to transform.

Instead of keeping the Wing Hall Table for my personal collection, Thos. Moser and I (in coordination with White Good) have decided to donate this one-of-a-kind signature furniture to ALLL’s upcoming crowd funding campaign that would support a rebuilding project in connection with Typhoon Haiyan.
Our upcoming rebuilding project
Wing Hall Table. Image from Thos. Moser website

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