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American Modern (1925-1940)

We’ve spent quite a while recently exploring the history of American made furniture and we’ve almost made it through the years and ages.  Last time we met, we took a look at Art Noveau but what came next?  Next up was the American Modern movement – sit back, relax and read on to learn more!

American Modern was a distinct American design aesthetic formed in the period between 1925 and World War II.  Created by a pioneering group of designers, architects and artists, this movement is distinguished by the absence of traditional ornament, the use of new technologies and materials, and the application of mass-production techniques to create affordable objects for the expanding middle class.  The impact on the lives of the everyday American is exemplified through a wide array of objects from furniture to graphic arts.

In the beginning, most of America’s modern design reflected the widespread influence of the Paris fair which brought to international prominence the chic French luxury style of Art Deco, with its emphasis on costly materials and fine workmanship. Dramatic economic, industrial and technological changes, however, would significantly impact design during this time of drastic growth in mass production and mass consumption.

America’s most innovative designers adapted the clean lines, pure geometric forms and machine-made materials of Germany’s Bauhaus movement which forged an alliance between art and industry. The onset of the Depression served to enhance the aim of the Bauhaus to create objects that were both attractive and affordable.

Interestingly enough, an important factor in the start of American design influence and dominance was an influx of foreign talent.  More than a third of the designers involved in the American Modern movement were immigrants drawn to America by the promise of economic opportunity or escape from political oppression.  Not only designers and manufacturers, but department stores, museums and galleries joined in an effort to promote innovative work in overcoming the country’s generally conservative taste for traditional forms which pushed the movement further.

This movement lasted until the 40s when the American taste moved from streamlined to comfort which ushered in the next movement of Scandinavian Contemporary.  And that concludes our look at the history of American made furniture!  We hope you’ve enjoyed this look back at the past and we’re glad you joined us!  Don’t forget to check out our website or stop by our store to find the furniture style that best suits your taste!

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Victorian Style Era (1840-1910)

Last time on The History of American Made Furniture, we discussed the Shaker style known for its simple and conservative style of design.  The basic look had many straight lines and very simple knobs and other elements and was originally produced by a religious group in the United States. Today we’ll take a look at what followed the Shaker style – the Victorian style era.

The Victorian style was named after Queen Victoria of England who ruled in the late 1800s and as popularized from 1840 to 1910.  Victorian furniture was known for having darker finishes and very elaborate and ornate designs.  In fact, the Victorian age furniture draws its influence from gothic forms with heavy proportions, dark finish, elaborate carving, and ornamentation. Victorian age furniture has a strong Rococo and Louis XV influence. Exaggerated curves, lush upholstery and decorative carvings are featured.  Below you’ll find a Victorian bedroom and sitting room.

800px-The_Victorian_Bedroom_at_Dalgarven

800px-The_Victorian_Miller's_sittingroom

During this era, manufacturing of furniture due to the industrial revolution and changes in technology, became easier. Mass production was now viable.  Because of these changes in production, Victorian style furniture was more readily available to consumers.

If you’d like to learn more about the specifics and details of the Victorian Style, you can visit Connected Lines.  And if you’re looking for furniture of your very own, stop by our shop or visit us online today!

Empire Style

We hope you’re having as much as we are exploring the history of American furniture!  We last took a look at the Federal/Neoclassical era which featured such rooms as the Haverhill Room.  The clean lines, delicate forms, geometric shapes, contrasting veneers, and decorative inlays of Federal-period furniture represent a dramatic shift away from the sinuous Rococo carving that had typified American decorative arts for the previous thirty years and found in period rooms from the second half of the eighteenth century.  Today we’ll look at American Empire which was a French-inspired Neoclassical style of American furniture and decoration that takes its name and originates from the Empire style introduced during the First French Empire period under Napoleon’s rule.

American Empire style gained its greatest popularity in the United States after 1810 and is technically considered a more robust version of the Neoclassical period.  As an early-19th-century design movement in the United States, it encompassed architecture, furniture and other decorative arts, as well as the visual arts.  The Empire style was most notably exemplified by the work of New York cabinetmakers Duncan Phyfe and Paris-trained Charles-Honoré Lannuier. Other major furniture centers renowned for regional interpretations of the American Empire style were Boston, Philadelphia, and Baltimore.

Characteristics of the American Empire style cabinet making include antiquities-inspired carving, gilt-brass furniture mounts, and decorative inlays such as stamped-brass banding with egg-and-dart, diamond, or Greek-key patterns, or individual shapes such as stars or circles.  As time passed, this style became more elaborate, particularly between 1815 and 1825, and grew to include columns with rope-twist carving, animal-paw feet, anthemion, stars, and acanthus-leaf ornamentation, sometimes in combination with gilding and vert antique (antique green, simulating aged bronze). The Red Room at the White House is a great example of this.

RedRoom

There was also a simplified version of the American Empire style referred to as the Grecian style.  This style plainer surfaces in curved forms, highly figured mahogany veneers, and sometimes gilt-stencilled decorations. Many examples of this style survive, exemplified by massive chests of drawers with scroll pillars and glass pulls, work tables with scroll feet and ‘fiddleback’ chairs. Elements of the style enjoyed a brief revival in the 1890s with, particularly, chests of drawers and vanities or dressing tables, usually executed in oak and oak veneers.

Stay tuned for more furniture facts and fun and if there’s anything you’d like to learn more about, leave us a comment or email and let us know!  Remember you can always drop by our website or come by our store anytime to find the perfect set of furniture for yourself!