A Study Stand for Carl Jung’s “Red Book”

by Michael on November 7, 2012

Study Stand

Designing and creating something of such deep spiritual significance, but with as much usefulness as this study stand, was an undertaking very dear to my heart. Immediately upon seeing the client’s copy of Carl Jung’s Red Book, I knew it needed a ceremonial yet practical home upon which to rest. As a lover of symbolism and ornament, I was overwhelmed in journeying through the book by its richness and beauty and was overjoyed at the opportunity to create a “partner” for it. From the specific height of the stand and angle of the desktop, to the Jungian and personal symbols chosen by the client, this is the most client-specific project I have ever undertaken.  I would do so again, gladly.

Symbol 1

Symbol 2

Symbol 3

Symbol 4

While I had some fundamental knowledge of Jungian symbolism, it was when the client gave me a diagram of the chakras that the basic ideas for the form of the study stand began to develop.  The beautiful lotus-leafed symmetry of the base chakra called out to be replicated in the base of the stand.  Putting a representation of the crown chakra at the top was a logical next step, and having them connected by kundalini serpents intertwining and ascending the column felt obvious. A photo of the inscription over the door of Jung’s home at Küsnacht led me to propose carving those words on the desktop.

Study Stand Top

The client emailed images of the symbols he desired for the desktop. I created mockups, photographed them, and swapped emails with the client until the layout was perfect. This collaborative process in the virtual world that modern technology has made so facile was a rich and rewarding one for me. Through it, I was able to give my client precisely what he wanted, while at no time surrendering any of my own artistic desires.

Study Stand Detail

Following is an endorsement written by the client:

After receiving my copy of Carl Jung’s Red Book, I was immediately aware of the large physical presence and resonance of the book and the problem with where to place it and study it. No place in my home or office worked.  My favorite designer/artisan, Michael Scarborough, suggested a study stand for it with a removable desktop so that I could stand to study or sit at a desk with the desktop at the best reading angle.

As his initials ideas began to develop, Mr. Scarborough skillfully integrated the study stand concept into a practical, yet beautiful artistic design that incorporated the symbols that I wanted to include as well as the practical aspects of function and utility. The process of collaboration was fluid, fun, and full of creativity and discovery for us both.  His design incorporated Jungian principles of balance including dark and light, substance and style, spirit and matter, masculine and feminine, and grounding and vision.  In addition, the stand is itself a literal representation and artistic model of the chakras which point the way to personal evolution and individuation from the root chakra (the base) to the crown chakra (the desktop) with the kundalini serpents ascending the post to symbolize the movement toward enlightenment.  Mr. Scarborough’s suggestion to use African Sapele mahogany with a dark stain to contrast with the bright vivid color of the Red Book and its rich, colorful contents rounded out the design so that style, content, form, color, and tone were in perfect balance.

But it was the sheer beauty and utter skill of his craftsmanship that struck me as I took delivery of this stunning piece of art, which interestingly enough did not steal the focus when the Red Book was placed on it.  The stand seems to mingle heaven and earth as it invites you to study and take in the symbols that I had chosen: the mandorla, yin/yang, tree of life, celtic cross, and crown chakra.  The stand also stands up to the weightiness of the Red Book without competing and yet together with the Red Book draws the eye when passing by.  The combination of the Red Book and the stand seems as though it shares its beauty and energy with you in the same room like a piece of fine art.  It never fails to affect me as I walk by it, touch it, view it, or use it. Consequently, I want to spend more time in my library and at the stand studying.  I am so pleased and delighted to recommend Michael Scarborough’s craftsmanship and his good spirit and patience.  His gifts are especially in evidence when there is a collaborative working together for a higher purpose.

A podium version of the stand was also created.


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