Nuance is that most intriguing and elusive of qualities,
something that we can never quite grasp, somehow indefinable and yet
present to the eye and the mind, the senses and the intellect. Nuance
lies in the subtle gradations of color that lend dimension to a textile or
richness to a walnut finish. Or again, nuance reveals itself in a detail with overtones of the past, an element of design that references a traditional method of construction or an exquisite finish that blurs the boundaries between technique and art. The details of any designed thing, however small or subtle, evoke ideas, sensations or emotions and are key to the fundamental appeal of the object.
The merest thing—the beveled edge of a table, the slight curve of a seat, the angle of a leg or a lustrous or matte finish on a drawer pull—lends the most practical of objects a refinement greater than its fellows. Details create nuance and hint at possible meanings, they speak to us in ways that we intuitively understand, articulating the purpose or significance of an object, endowing the object with its special distinction and beauty.
To create nuance, we rely not only on concept, on line and proportion,
but also on craft, for it is craft that connects concept to execution, the
sketch to the prototype and the model to the finished product. Craft
transforms ideas and raw materials into chairs, stools, trolleys and
tables that look as good and function as well as when the designer
intended when they were first conceived. Craft is not limited to the
handmade one-off. It is integral to the manufacturing processes that
create the visual and structural continuity of mass-produced products
as well. The significance of craft reveals itself in such details as the perfect execution of a sculpted curve or the nuance created by the
flawless stitches that fit fabric to the frame of a chair. At the same time, craft reveals a subtle understanding of material—a beautiful pattern of grain or the suppleness of wood—and the techniques that may be used
to create the neat fit of parts or fluidity of line.