According to Herman Muthesius, "arts and crafts were called upon to restore our awareness of the honesty, integrity, and simplicity in contemporary society. If this can be achieved, the whole of our cultural life will be profoundly affected. . . . If the new trends are genuine, then an original, lasting style will emerge."8 Trend-setting furniture became popular at the end of the nineteenth century, inspired by designers, fine artists, architects, writers, and other professionals. It was this collection of tastemakers that spawned new movements of design that came to be known as Arts and Crafts, including the Gothic Revival, the Glasgow School, Art Nouveau, and the Vienna Secession...>
Category Furniture Design
The nineteenth century witnessed the rise of architects as furniture designers. Architects had knowledge of both design and furniture fabrication and, in some respects, assumed the previous positions of ebeniste and menuiser. During this period, there was a growing culture of architecture and craft supported by an unprecedented outpouring of publications and treatises on beauty, furniture patterns, and craft. It was during this time that the Arts and Crafts movement began, marking a reaction to the Industrial Revolution and industrial production.
Alarmed by the poor design and quality of furniture products, the minimal use of hand craftsmanship, and the environmental degradation of the Industrial Revolution, the architect Augustus Welby Pugin (1812-1852) wrote his first book, Gothic F...>
By the end of the nineteenth century, Paris was indisputably the center of European furniture production. Furniture fabricated in Paris was typically well finished, with high-quality
workmanship. Chair frames were often made of walnut due to the wood’s stability and workability. By the 1880s, there were approximately 17,000 furniture workers in Paris, 2,000 of them fabricating the best and most expensive pieces (meubles de luxe), 14,000 making cheaper furnishings (meubles courants), and another 500 (trdleurs), whose job was to deliver their finished pieces around to the retail outlets. The huge Parisian furniture industry serviced almost 1,200 retailers, of which 50 were selling meubles de luxe...>
In 1815, after the fall of Napoleon, Louis XVIII became King of France. Though he continued the revival of the classical styles that had been so popular in the court of his brother, Louis XVI, the Empire style soon evolved into the Bourbon "Restoration." This classical revival did not depend on the precise rendition of former styles. Rather, updated versions of past styles came into being, mixing new technologies with older styles. This trend coincided with the enormous development of industrialization and the ability to mass-produce work. But as the French political structure came to an end with the revolution of July 1830 and with the end of the Bourbon line in 1848, new design ideas as well as fresh political incentives emerged.
In the mid-1800s, there was a growing and increasingly pro...>
All across Europe during the nineteenth century, cities began to host large expositions to showcase innovative cultural ideas, designs, and inventions. Munich, Germany, held its first annual exhibition in 1818, and subsequently Metz and Vienna, Austria, and Oporto, Italy, held exhibitions as well. These exhibitions showcased international culture, including influences from Turkey, China, and Japan, and had great social and economic impact upon the culture of design. The Great Exhibition, the first recognized international exhibition, was held in 1851 at Hyde Park, London, in Joseph Paxton’s recently completed Crystal Palace. This building was a monumental undertaking of modular building, utilizing prefabricated glass and iron components...>
The British brothers Robert and James Adam were both edu-
cated as architects. They developed a pronounced style after their return from Pompeii and other cities in Italy. Their work grew in popularity throughout England between 1760 and 1792 and had a profound effect on furniture styles in England and abroad, especially on the work of Hepplewhite and Sheraton. Their furniture was characterized by simplicity and delicacy. They designed sideboards, upholstered sofas, and daybeds, often using rectilinear forms. A vast collection of 9,000 drawings by Robert Adam are preserved at the Soane Museum, of which several hundred are drawings of furniture...>
The plantation owners in the new American colonies turned to England for furnishings, but the vast majority of colonists were ordinary people from a variety of different cultures, who depended on what they could bring with them on their voyage or had to build their furniture from local woods. For these people, furniture was fabricated using primitive and regional woodworking technology.
The table became an important furnishing in the colonial home during the midseventeenth century. It created a centered spatial zone in the home that was useful for work, social gatherings, tea, and shared conversations throughout the day. The American gateleg table was used as an oval table in the center of the room and as a drop-leaf table placed against a wall (Figure 10.36).
Among the f...>
The greatest influence on furniture design in the seventeenth century resulted from the growth of trade within the British Empire. Finally, it had become economically possible to transport finished pieces of furniture as well as raw material by ship. A significant new source of furniture and raw material was India, and trade with India and its adjacent lands became known as the Triangle Trade. As a result of the Triangle Trade, an excellent tropical hardwood. West Indian mahogany, was obtained. The abundant supply of this hardwood, and its demand by the furniture trades, allowed solid wood furniture to replace traditional veneer pieces, which had previously been the norm.
Workers skilled in the techniques of japanning and oriental lacquer supplied Europe with new types of exotic finishe...>
The French Rococo period (1715-1774) was a time when important distinctions in an array of trades developed. The following terms identify some of the trades and craftsmen of the French Rococo:
1. Ebeniste: cabinetmaker, working with ebony and a variety of other woods, who made veneered furniture
2. Menuisier: solid wood furniture maker
3. Fondeur: metal mounts maker
4. Ciseleur: bronze casting maker
5. Vernisseur: lacquerer
6. Marqueteur: maker of marquetry
7. Doreur: gilder
It remained a punishable offense for a furniture maker to cross trades. This made it difficult for those who possessed woodworking skills to work outside the boundaries of their primary trade and created a climate for specialists rather than generalists in furniture making...>
The Baroque period began in the seventeenth century, originating in southern Europe, and extended into the early eighteenth century. The Baroque style was influenced by the Bourbon dynasty (1589-1789) and by the prevailing fashions in Italy, France, Spain, and the Netherlands. Two cultural and economic forces shaped furniture of this period. First, there were large and complicated trade activities involving exotic and luxury goods in the Far East and with colonies throughout the world. Second, the Catholic church began to consolidate power through the Counter-Reformation during this period. Monasteries once again saw advances in furniture in both typology and quality due to their settled way of life...>