I recently undertook a workshop to make leather and wood safari chair. It has an interesting history from the days of the English empire when the British Army officers identified a need for rugged, sturdy and simple furniture. The ‘Roorkee Chair’ as it was called, named in honour of the Indian Army Corps Engineers located at Roorkee, was lightweight, could be folded up, carried around easily and loaded onto a pack horse.
As I was making this chair it became so obvious that this was an engineering masterpiece, using minimal materials easily available at the time. It required the skill of leatherwork, woodturning, careful measurement, an aesthetic eye and overall attention to detail.
It wasn't until the last few hours as we assembled the multiple wooden and leather pieces that the sheer visual beauty of this chair became apparent. And luckily the piece is comfortable as it shifts to suit our body shape.
People who say they’re not ‘creative’ constantly surprise me. I assume they define this by their skills in painting, dance or music. Many of my classmates said this to me as they crafted the most beautifully formed wooden legs, or cut the leather pieces with mathematical precision so none was wasted.
The science and art of the chair is yet another symbol of the enormous potential we all have to be creative, clearly not just in practical applications but in problem solving, adaptability and resilience.
Could anyone make this chair … probably yes. Would everyone do this… probably not.
So wouldn’t it be interesting if instead of saying I’m not creative, we entered into the spirit of creation with exploration, discovery and an open heart.