Rods… What’s a rod? – Rowden Atelier

Rods… What’s a rod?


What’s a Rod? Once a design has come close to its final iteration all Rowden students are encouraged to find a suitably sized piece of 3mm MDF. Why? Because their next task is to draw an exact full-size 1:1 rendering of the design. This full-size rendering is what we call a “Rod”.

The rod should include a front view and side view, as well as a plan view from above. It needs to be very accurate as it is intended to be the definitive design. It is from this that all the components, doors, hinges, and joints will be measured. Now of course, there should also be a definitive cutting list, a component list, and probably a definitive model in CAD. But there’s not a lot that can beat an accurate 1:1 draft of a design to get the regular, reality checks against as a brand new bespoke piece starts to come together.

Take your time

Rods take time to draw up. This could be hours, if not days, and there are a few of us (ahem) who insist on drawing with a 0.3mm or 0.5mm pencil. And then going over it with a scalpel because the pencil line is too approximate… I kid you not!

Done well, the rod is also the first time a designer gets to see their design propped up against a wall at full scale. This gives them the chance to reflect on the piece’s proportions, scale and relative balance. Sometimes a piece just looks too ide, too bulky or the legs look spindly when you look down on them. A great deal of changes can become necessary only once the designer has been able to see a piece drawn up in full scale.

So, good for checking scale and proportion. Good for cross referencing against a cutting list. Good for checking joints and hinges. Good for referencing against during the build. Clearly, a good habit to get into.

Lakshmi Bhaskaran, 2017.

Lakshmi studied at the Rowden Atelier in 2008, following on from a successful career as a design writer and author. It was at Rowden that she met her husband and business partner, Jonathan Walter. The pair set up Bark Furniture in 2010 and now run a successful furniture business, based in Cornwall, with clients all around the world. Lakshmi has written for renowned publications including Wallpaper and has authored five books in the design area.