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Riya Agrawal

on 30 January 2014

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Renaissance Furniture
Along with the other arts, the Italian Renaissance of the fourteenth and fifteenth century marked a rebirth in furniture design, often inspired by the Greco-Roman tradition. Starting in the fifteenth century, a similar renaissance of culture, occurred in Northern Europe, particularly in the Netherlands, Belgium and Northern France. These designs were distinctly different from that of Medieval times and were characterized by opulent, often gilded designs that frequently incorporated a profusion of floral, vegetal and scrolling ornamentation. The aim of these pieces were often to showcase the skills of the craftsmen who made them.
The hyperarid climatic conditions of Egypt since the third millennium BC are perfect for the preservation of organic material. Thanks to these conditions Ancient Egyptian furniture has been excavated and various sites and includes 3rd millennium BC beds, discovered at Tarkhan, a 2550 BC gilded bed and chairs from the tomb of Queen Hetepheres, and boxes, beds and chairs from Thebes. There were two severe sides to the furniture excavated, the intricate gold gilded ornate furniture found in the tombs of the Pharaohs and the simple chairs, tables and baskets of the ordinary Egyptians.
Ancient Greek Furniture
Ancient Greek furniture design can be dated back to the 2nd millennium BC, including the famous klismos chair. The furniture designs are preserved not only by the examples still in existance, but by images of them depicted in Greek vases. In 1738 and 1748 excavations of Herculaneum and Pompeii revealed perfectly preserved Roman furniture. The ashes from the eruption at Mount Vesuvius preserved the furniture from 79 A.D. right up its excavation in the eighteenth century. Characteristic of this early furniture were highly influenced by the furniture of the ancient Egyptians with a stiff, rectangular, and unflattering shape. In the 4th and 5th centuries, once the Greeks developed their own style, furniture became less square and rigid and more curved and flowing.
Furniture design has been a part of the human experience since the beginning of history. Evidence of furniture survives from as far back as the Neolithic Period in the form of paintings, wall Murals discovered at Pompeii, in sculpture and examples have also been excavated in Egyptian Pyramids and found in tombs in Ghiordes (modern day Turkey). These notes will track the main advancements, developments, styles and materials in furniture design highlighting the identifying features of each period, the materials used and show images of some of the most significant pieces of furniture ever designed.
Medieval Furniture
The medieval period was a stark and somewhat crude time, and that is reflected in the furniture styles of the era. The furniture of the medieval period is very distinctive in style. Its most notable characteristics are ornate wood carvings on the border of chairs and canopy beds, garish structural layouts and colours that are basically grey, beige or black. Forms were mainly square or rectangular with very little in the way of curved lines or circular forms.
Ancient Egyptian Furniture
Jacobean furniture
Jacobean furniture, during the era of Oliver Cromwell the Protector, was very stern, square, and frugal, a suitable style for a time of relative poverty. But with the return of the monarchy under Charles II, Carolean furniture once again became more ornate, characterized by intricate carved stretchers and colourful upholstery with tasseled trim.By the end of the period, the influence of the British William and Mary style was beginning to show. Compared to the Jacobean and Carolean pieces this style of furniture was lighter and more elegant. Inverted, cup-turned legs, bun feet, and serpentine stretchers made this a very identifiable style
Colonial furniture
During the early Colonial period, most furniture arrived along with the first immigrants. They brought furniture pieces typical of the Jacobean and Carolean periods in Britain with them, and then later made their own furniture in a similar style. These pieces were generally sturdy and heavily carved, many with turned legs and bun feet. In the harsher environment of some of the Colonies these pieces were simpler representatives of their parent styles, befitting the more straightforward and utilitarian life of the settlers. Uncompromisingly rectangular, its distinctively carved frame-and-panel construction, although very reminiscent of earlier British Age of Oak pieces, is already recognizable as a distinct American style. Many other early Colonial era pieces, such as wainscot chairs and heavy joint-tables, are similarly in the Age of Oak tradition.
Rococo Furniture
In the eighteenth century, furniture design began to develop rapidly, although there were some styles that belonged primarily to one nation, such as Palladianism in Great Britain or Louis Quinze in French furniture, others, such as the Rococo and Neoclassicism were commonplace throughout Western Europe. In reality the term '18th-century furniture' therefore refers to a wide variety of styles including William and Mary, Queen Anne, Georgian, Chippendale, Hepplewhite, Sheraton, Adam, Regency, Federal, and the French periods of the several Louis, Directoire, and Empire.While seperate, all 18th-century furniture, whether American, British, or French shared a similar style of construction that is distinct from the subsequent mass-produced furniture of the 19th century. Eighteenth-century furniture is commonly thought of as representing the golden age of the highly trained master cabinetmaker, trained in the craft of furniture design which manifests in highly finished, sophisticated designs.
Revival Furniture
With increasing working populations in cities, the rise of a new class of wealthy of furniture buyers, together with the arrival of mass-production and the demise of the individual craftsman-designer, the gradual progression of furniture styles that had developed through the previous centuries was replaced by a raft of imitation or revival styles. These concurrent revival styles, including Gothic revival, Neoclassicism and Rococo revival became easy and inexpensive to manufacture as technology developed during the industrial revolution.With mass-production technology in place it was a simple matter to graft historically correct ornaments onto all sorts of furniture, thereby making possible for the creation of a continual stream of revival styles to meet the demands of the public. The result was a century of furniture whose common denominator was excessive ornamentation in the form of applied metal or wood carvings, inlays or stencils.
Furniture created in the Art Nouveau style was prominent from the late 19th century to the advent of the First World War. Unlike furniture made by the British Arts and Crafts movement, from which it emerged in stylistic respects, most Art Nouveau furniture was produced in factories by normal manufacturing techniques, which led to tensions with Arts and Crafts figures in England, who criticised continental Art Nouveau furniture for not being 'honestly' constructed. It also tended to be expensive, as a fine finish, usually polished or varnished, was regarded as essential, and continental designs were usually very complex, with curving shapes that were expensive to make. It by no means entirely replaced other styles of furniture, which continued to be popular, with Art Nouveau styles largely restricted to an expensive "art furniture" category.

The Bauhaus style became one of the most influential currents in Modernist architecture and modern design. The Bauhaus had a profound influence upon subsequent developments in art, architecture, graphic design, interior design, industrial design, and of course furniture design. This is why "Bauhaus Furniture" has become some of a generic term for any kind of modern classic furniture. As a matter of fact however, it were only a few items that were actually created at the Bauhaus by Marcel Breuer and Mies van der Rohe.
Art Deco or Deco, is an influential visual arts design style which first appeared in France after World War I, flourishing internationally in the 1930s and 1940s before its popularity waned after World War II.[1] It is an eclectic style that combines traditional craft motifs with Machine Age imagery and materials. The style is often characterized by rich colors, bold geometric shapes, and lavish ornamentation.Deco emerged from the Interwar period when rapid industrialization was transforming culture. One of its major attributes is an embrace of technology. This distinguishes Deco from the organic motifs favored by its predecessor Art Nouveau.
Modern furniture refers to furniture produced from the late 19th century through the present that is influenced by modernism. It was a tremendous departure from all furniture design that had gone before it. Dark or gilded carved wood and richly patterned fabrics gave way to the glittering simplicity and geometry of polished metal. The forms of furniture evolved from visually heavy to visually light.
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