Designing a piece of furniture is not unlike having an odd jacket or suit made. The urge to leap into the exciting details of buttons and exuberant linings of the latter mirrors the fawning over solid brass hinges, campaign hardware and knobs that are the finishing touches of the former. Impatience is ill-rewarded in both instances. Form, proportion and basic design must first be firmly established and only then should the lily be subtly gilded.
Oh how satisfying those finishing touches can be though! It was a happy realization that my modular armoire almost required a linear, undecorated design as I have long admired campaign style furniture. These officer’s trunks and cases, desks and bureaus are simply constructed of sturdy hardwoods, the only embellishments coming from brass reinforcing hardware. As it happened, my bedside tables were already in the campaign style, so a towering armoire was sure to compliment. And it does, but at considerable personal effort in sourcing convincing solid brass hinges, corner braces and pulls.
Interior hardware was another trial entirely. Finding a sturdy brass tube with matching flanges as a clothes bar was not an easy task. Plenty of brass-plated versions exist, but fear of flakes raining down on the shoulders and lapels of my clothes like glittering dandruff had me commissioning a solid brass tube from a distant Canadian foundry. I hacksawed it to precise length, and installed a steel tube snugly within so as to prevent even the faintest sagging under the significant weight of coat hangers and clothes.
The problem with storage generally is things like suits and shirts, sweaters and shoes receive the prime real estate, while belts, braces (suspenders) and ties are left to divide the less desirable nooks and crannies. Neglected accessories are a sad sight, so rather than hastily tacking a tie rack somewhere I am still mulling my options. I have found some tasteful solid brass strips, each with twenty pegs. I’m stumped where to install them though; on the inside of the doors will mean constant fear of clamping a foulard when closing the armoire, but hung on an inside wall will bite into the linear storage space. I will need all 101.4 inches.
I joked with a friend helping me move the thing the other day that, should I have to scramble, I could load the two modular pieces of the armoire, fully loaded with clothes, into the back of a truck and be gone within the hour. I suppose a similar scenario is what motivated the design of campaign style furniture in the first place. It’s a romantic, though in my case irrelevant, thought. The true mobility of this design is less concrete; it’s the investment in storage that is untethered to a single place—quite unlike the fortune people are happy to pour into closet space.