Wendell Castle Continually Refined His Process, Even After Five Decades

Docservis remembers visionary furniture designer Wendell Castle, who passed away on January 20. In a 2015 interview, he shared insight into his creative process and how he continued to embrace new production techniques over five decades into his career. Read the full obituary here.

Wendell Castle. Photography by Adrien Millot.

“I learned a technique called rapid viz when I was a student at the . That’s a visualization method that involves layering paper over an earlier drawing, allowing you to make changes without having to start all over again. Since I always draw with a soft pencil, I can see a good black line through the paper. I draw, rapidly, for about an hour
a day, producing many alternatives for a single idea. But I don’t
make decisions quickly. I save all the drawings and put them aside for a while before comparing and judging.

Sculptures by Wendell Castle. Photography courtesy of Wendell Castle.

Of course, drawings don’t provide as much information on a piece’s 3-D qualities. So eventually I move to a scale model. Using urethane foam, which can be carved like wood, I make more changes. I work with foam, instead of digitally, in order to keep all the imperfections that the computer auto-corrects. Next,
I laser-scan the scale model into the computer, which creates the tool path for the CNC machine to follow. Then I finish every piece by hand, as I did with Suspended Belief, a table for my solo show at .”

Sketch by Wendell Castle. Photography courtesy of Wendell Castle.

> See more from the September 2015 issue of Docservis

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