How did furniture develop through the centuries?

Furniture ( likely from the Gallic ‘fournir ‘ — to supply ) is the mass noun for the movable objects ( ‘mobile ‘ in Latin linguistic communications ) intended to back up assorted human activities such as seating and sleeping in beds, to keep objects at a convenient tallness for work utilizing horizontal surfaces above the land, or to hive away things.

The inquiry above is non an easy one to reply. Traveling through the ages of the past it can easy be seen that people invented tonss of different types and forms of furniture. To seek to reply this inquiry we would hold to travel all the manner back to the medieval times. This period in clip would hold to be the get downing point in this affair and the Fourteenth-Century ‘s Great Hall would hold to be our point A. Traveling frontward in the chase of development of the furniture we would come across the Fifteenth-Century ‘s Solar ( room ) and following that route the typical Tudor Interior from the Sixteenth-Century in which the Elizabethan tendency was the strongest one to indicate out. Another development traveling forward was presented in the Seventeenth-Century in the age of Stuarts rapidly followed up by the Georgian Times with its alterations in the furniture art and trade. Late Eighteen-Century was known as the aureate age for furniture besides names as “age of mahogany” . Traveling frontward into the Victorian times and drastic addition in furniture demand and eventually put an terminal to the journey through the development of furniture and settee in the Twentieth-Century and its long history.

The chase of the reply to the above inquiry will non be straight frontward and it will affect acquiring into inside informations of different manner and behavior of people who lived in the periods presented above. The clip frames would hold to be examined carefully and the decision have to be made after comparing and reexamining illustrations from each period of clip. The program would be to maintain the research inveterate and travel over the footings of old ages in historical order. That is the best possible manner to indicate out the differences and possible development of the furniture along the ages. The fact that people are the Godheads of the furniture supports the positive reply to the inquiry as all human existences are alone and individual ‘s head is infinite. Therefore the furniture physique by the manus of work forces can and will change among the clip.

MEDIEVAL: The quest through the ages in the purpose of furniture development will get down in the mediaeval clip. Furniture in that period was created strictly to assist people with twenty-four hours to twenty-four hours undertakings – tabular array was used merely to eat or pull on it. It was non designed to be a piece of art, it was more of a tool. There was a really small furniture in a mediaeval place and the piece were all of basic, useful design. One of the most valued points was the wooden bed on which lay the plume mattress, supported on boards or rope mesh. After the bed the thorax was the most of import article of furniture, the craftsmen were outrunning themselves in the cosmetic piercing of them. There were besides closets for storage of nutrient and home base. Benchs and long oak solid and trestle tabular arraies were popular every bit good in that clip, the households were large and the longer the tabular array the more people could eat at the same clip. Practicality was the chief intent of the mediaeval age furniture. Great Hall was the chief room where people used to dine and festive together. Most furniture was made of oak, boarded for the most portion and decorated by carving and picture.

Medieval Trestle tabular array Medieval Chest

ELIZABETHAN / JACOBEAN: The debut of united furniture towards the terminal of the Fifteenth-Century made possible stronger and lighter articles. In the clip of the Tudor dynasty furniture was easy going more varied in design and greater in measure. Oak was still the wood most in usage and ornament was by carving and inlay. In the first half of the Sixteenth-Century linenfold paneling was extensively carved to adorn panels for thoraxs and closets. The reign of Elizabeth I ( 7 September 1533 – 24 March 1603 ) is a good starting point for the survey of furniture. Elizabethan furniture is characterised by the bulblike leg, carved with acanthus foliage ornament ( seen in beds, tabular arraies, tribunal closets and counters ) . The four-poster bed made its visual aspect in this century. The model of examiner, stations and headboard was amply carved over the full surface. Through still non common, chairs were more legion than in the old times.

Elizabethan sleeping room Elizabethan tabular array

Stuart: Furniture, as elsewhere in the house had become more equal and convenient. Additionally to the kitchen tabular array there was ever a settee, a chest of drawers, and chairs. In the 2nd half of the Seventeenth-Century the carving of woodwork reached exceptionally high criterion of workmanship. Classical decorations were used in carving. Most common 1s were egg and dart, bead and reel and acanthus leaf. After the Restoration of the Monarchy ( 1660 ) furniture become more cosmetic but at the same clip they were more utile at place. Charles II after his return to England from France brought different methods of doing the furniture. Besides, usage of the other types of wood and the significance of ornamentation strongly evolved at that clip. Craftsmans from France were for good traveling to England and they were bettering and implementing their manner of making the furniture to the local 1s.

The period between 1660 and 1750 ‘s was known in the history as the “age of walnut” . This wood was by and large used strictly due to the low cost and the coloring material of it. The building of the furniture became more delicate and the design of it varied. Legs were turned in bobbin vase or columniform signifier or as the quality of lathe design improved, in the coiling turn. The twenty-four hours bed appeared along with the use of more chairs and settles. Solid dining tabular arraies were pushed out by the gate-leg design, card and little side tabular arraies. Upholstery was in common usage for siting furniture, it was covered with turkeywork, velvet or embellishment and edged with periphery and tassels. The visual aspect of new cosmetic techniques ( veneering, japanning, gesso, marqueterie ) raised the art of furniture to the following degree.

Stuart chair Gate-leg tabular array

Georgian: The signifier of classicalism followed by designers during this long period changed markedly. Palladianism appeared and developed in the early old ages of this period ( 1714 – 1760 ) . Typical English manner restrained and about austere on the outside, correct in its classical design and item, richer, warmer and bold within. The state houses of this type were set in carefully selected outsides, ideal positioned in laid out parklands. The Eighteenth-Century was the aureate age of the English house. The quality of design and workmanship in architecture and the cosmetic humanistic disciplines had been steadily bettering since Elizabethan times and this reached its zenith in the old ages 1760 – 1790.

There was a tendency in supplying design to follow a quickly altering assortment of different beginning stuff. The criterion of craft suffered due to mass production of cosmetic parts based on the cost and clip salvaging background. In entire, the clip and forbearance required to develop a craftsman and the money to pay him to bring forth a brilliant piece of furniture were running out and the decay of gustatory sensation was at hand. The general quality of the furniture was dropping down quickly. Due to quick addition of population classy and fashionable furniture were pushed out by simpler quicker to do designs, more efficient and less effectual mass merchandises.

The aureate age was besides called the mahogany age in the furniture history. Although walnut was continued in usage until mid-century, other forests were besides employed. After the abolishment in 1721 of the import responsibilities of West Indian timers, mahogany began to come in the state in Numberss. It was a perfect wood for a furniture doing industry. Strong, suited for delicate carving ( riband or lyre back chairs and cabriole legs ending in claw and ball pess ) , besides available in greater breadths than walnut what made it ideal for veneered surfaces of larger country and for table tops. It had a beautiful patina and opposition to woodworm. In this period many new designs appeared at a glimpse, such as tabular arraies, chair, stools, settles, agency. China and corner cabinets were besides popular, along with dense servers, mirrors, candle stands desks and toilets. The designs of the first half of the century were larger graduated table, nicely carved in authoritative mode and wonderfully veneered surfaces.

1750 ‘s was the clip of the Rococo motive in trappings, followed by Chinese and Gothic signifiers. 1760 ‘s was a more delicate period characteristic with carven mahogany but besides painted and gilded beech, harewood and Zanthoxylum flavum veneers, ormolu saddle horses and marqueterie and brass inlay. In this period more delicate furniture pushed out the heavier designs from old old ages i.e. the cabriole leg was pushed out by the tapering square leg. New points started looking in the 70 ‘s and 80 ‘s of Eighteen-Century and Pembroke tabular array was one of the illustrations.

At the terminal of the century came the Sheraton epoch, exposing at the same time strength, map and daintiness in the trappings designs. Decoration was restrained in picture, inlay and veneer, frequently with metal inlay and climb. The design was field and largely copied from old-timer masters – Greece. The couch tabular array evolved from the Pembroke signifier. Chairs were characterized with by horizontal dorsums instead than perpendicular splats, and legs which frequently curved in sabre design ( Egyptian or Etruscan samples ) . Typical of mirror design was the round convex type. The long dining tabular array was revived, standing on curved legs and pillared supports.

1740 – 1750 ‘s room 1760 ‘s room ( Adam ‘s Room )

Pembroke table Lattice-back chair Rococo set Regency furniture ( late 18th cent. )

Victorians: Nineteenth-Century period. The insides of Victorian houses were in marked contrast to the old century. One of the major grounds for this was the urbanisation procedure and the migration of people from state to the metropoliss. Besides, the major growing of population forced the alteration in the design of the houses and its insides. Mass-production methods of providing the demands led to a greater similarity in their designs, which overall resulted in a poorer degree of design and craft. The early portion of this period saw machines get downing to replace manus labor, the beginning of the industrial age.
This period created a big spread between the interior decorator and the craftsmen. The mills had changed, the interior decorators no longer had direct contact with the client. The new machines were introduced to take away from adult male the back braking occupations and velocity up industry. They shortly began to take over most of the work and the furniture started to be designed around what the machine could do, therefore the quality of design declined. The demand for furniture was high, the mills were fabricating at a fast gait, and a frenetic haste for the interior decorators to maintain in front of each other created hapless quality design.

Interior cosmetic strategies were in great contrast to the Regency 1s. White or visible radiation painted wood work had been replaced by dark brown tones. Supplying cloths were all darker and richer in chromaticity and most frequently strongly patterned. There was a strong inclination to drape stuffs over everything, tasselled velvet screens to tabular arraies and mantels, antimacassars on the chair and couch dorsums. Upholstery was heavy, button designs were really stylish. The whole inside was over equipped and over decorated, a profuseness of stuffed birds, framed exposure, lacing mats and wax fruit. Interior designers instead used and modified many manners taken from assorted clip periods in history like Gothic, Tudor, Elizabethan, English Rococo, Neoclassical and others. The clean Grecian lines of the Regency period were out of favor by 1835 and everyone wanted furniture that was showier with plentifulness of curves. This showier furniture after 1850 led to low monetary values and hapless building and craft that was frequently hidden by veneer and applied decoration. The Gothic and Rococo resurgence manner were the most common manners to be seen in furniture during this clip in history.

In the last 20 old ages of the century colors became lighter once more, patterns less graphic, and fewer pieces of furniture were placed in a room. Mass production was still at its tallness therefore the quality and individuality of the furniture started to extinct. Because of the proficient advancement in the industry the interior became more insouciant and was supposed to be functional more than elegant. Furniture was less attractive, it was heavier in design and frequently over intricately decorated. In the late century the whole eighteenth century and the earlier manner designs were copied and reproduced for a mass market. It was really difficult to set up which the differences between the masters and the reproductions. One of the characteristic Victorian characteristics was the extended usage of the papier mache and to a lesser grade, Tunbridge ware. The balloon back chair and the debut of brass and Fe in the building of the bedframes were important in the Victorian furniture history. Rocking chairs were really popular along with tent beds. Plainer, more traditional furniture was made by a figure of interior decorators at the terminal of the century.

William Morris started a rebellion against this tendency, establishing a company to show the high quality of quality handmade furniture. Honesty of the handmade articulations was his characteristic of building. This lead to the Humanistic disciplines and Crafts Movement on the 1880 ‘s taking on to Art Nouveau. This drew attending to the virtues of eighteenth Century furniture and led to the pattern of buying 2nd manus furniture and the old-timer store began.

Victorian chairs Victorian hall Victorian rocking chair

Balloon back chair Tunbridge ware box Papier mache tabular array

THE TWENTIETH-CENTURY: Throughout history at that place has been great alteration in furniture design, but by far the most rapid and radical period of furniture history was the twentieth Century. The two universe wars of this century were non themselves responsible for the alterations in society. The wars did nevertheless act as accelerators rushing up the procedures of alteration. They have created specific barriers before and after the old ages of battle with no opportunity of returning back to the old being. All of the above has changed people ‘s attitude towards change drastically. After each war the place of adult females and their functionality had altered basically. Middle and upper category homemakers found themselves without sufficient labor to run their places as earlier needed to set up labor save equipment and coatings without outer aid.

Insides rapidly became apparent and far lesser furniture was used indoors. The history of furniture design in the twentieth century reflects the altering gustatory sensations and tendencies within the design community. The early old ages of twentieth century design were dominated by the slow reaction from the mid-Victorian over equipped inside, were the surplus of ornament taken topographic point one time once more. International Arts and Crafts Movement which was rapidly followed by Art Nouveau ( circa 1910-1920 ) and Art Deco ( circa 1920-1930 ) became more of a tendency than periods in the early twentieth century supplying history.

There was a great furniture demand to provide all new physique houses after the wars. Machine production had to be established to get by with the demands, nevertheless this has greatly impacted the quality of the furniture. Some first-class modern designs were manufactured in Scandinavia and in the 30 ‘s were bit by bit act uponing the English merchandise for the better. This level jammed furniture revolutionised the market in the whole Western Europe.

By mid century Modern and Post Modern manners accounted for the altering gustatory sensations of post-war consumers. Convenience and time-saving became more of import to the whole household in the decennaries after 1945. After World War II, the populace as a whole looked to warmer and softer furniture, organic signifiers, heater merchandises like lumber and upholstered chairs. They wanted to be cared for by their furniture, experience comfy and most of all have some luxury that had long been losing. Cardinal warming replaced the warming of the person suites. These two factors, together with a lifting criterion of life and a desire for greater privateness for the single members of the household led to general rearrangement and the new decor of the suites. The acknowledgment that with a cardinal warming there was no demand for a hearth led to the fact that in most places the Television receiving system became now the focal Centre. Smaller, more single sleeping rooms appeared in the families.

One of the most popular developments of that period was the use of plastic fabrics. In the field of plastic an extended scope of stuffs has become available to bring forth colorful, attractive, and easy to care surfaces at place. The fictile stuffs together with development of man-made fabric fibers, have revolutionised the ornament processes in the furniture industry. Plastics were like the cannular steel of old, it opened up room accesss for new furniture design, lightweight and versatile, interior decorators like Joe Colombo, Vernon Panton and Anna Castelli-Ferreri stormed in front concepting and fabricating plastic stacking chairs, beautiful and versatile. The industrial manner or Hi Tech motion developed in the 70 ‘s. The greatest progresss were in office furniture and equipment with Olivetti of Italy taking the manner. The 80 ‘s period of furniture design continued to concentrate on the industrial sector. Designs were predominately commissioned for retail shopping, infirmaries, eating houses, schools and hotels. The favoured stuffs were metal, pierced metal became popular along with steel reenforcing mesh.

Interior designers of this period searched to happen greater significance and intent for their furniture design. Some unusual and unusual signifiers were explored like the W.W. Stool by Phillipe Starck a fantasy manner piece of furniture that makes you question if you can so make bold to sit on it! The Soft Heart chair by Ron Arad showed how by utilizing polyurethane froth that the pick of forms and signifier was illimitable! Clever stuffs, engineering and production methods meant that the lone bounds were the interior decorators imaginativeness.

Traveling through the period of clip and analyzing all different tendencies in the history of furniture few interesting decisions appeared… … … .


1. “English Interiors – a pictural usher and glossary” , Doreen Yarwood – 1983

2. “The Encyclopedia of Furniture – 3rd edition” , Joseph Aronson – 1965

3. “A Century Of Interior Design 1900 – 2000” , Stanley Abercrombie – 2003

4. twentieth Century furniture history – hypertext transfer protocol: //

5. Victorian Furniture history – hypertext transfer protocol: //


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