Thos. Moser
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LIGHT AND SHADOW

Today's design legacy descends from Mediterranean cultures that confronted the effects of harsh sun on large geometric surfaces. Their challenge was made more difficult by the fact that most of their building materials, typically limestone and marble, were white.

A system of moldings and architectural reveals was developed by the Greeks to break up these large, white surfaces. These moldings and scribe lines added visual interest from shadows cast by the sun. As the sun moved, the shadows changed by hour and season, giving even more "movement" to the buildings.

The effects of light and shadow are integral to the design of our furniture, particularly in casework. Highlights and shadows result from the hierarchical changes in surface planes. Legs are set back from the edges of the top, frame members are recessed from the legs, and panels are stepped back from the frames. Even the contrast between vertical and horizontal grain patterns creates a subtle play of light.

Achieving these effects is demanding work for our craftsmen. The faceted planes on the seat of our Eastward Chair, for example, require exacting precision to sculpt, and only our most experienced chairmakers can do it with ease. Applied case-piece moldings that run at right angles to the grain are at risk of cracking when the wood expands. To avoid this, a cabinetmaker must build a hidden dovetailed track to allow the molding to slide.

A visual artist is concerned with how the eye travels over his painting or sculpture. His genius is to control the visual experience and with apparent ease. The furniture designer is no different. He too has to determine how the eye makes its journey over and, in some cases, into the object.
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