Classic Design Furniture

Written by Nicholas Kamuda
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In the last one hundred years, the paradigm surrounding classic design furniture has changed immensely. At the end of the 1800s, the word "classic" as it applied to furniture design might have had more to do with the heavy ornamentation and decoration of pre-Arts and Crafts Movement design. Since the 1950s or so, "classic design furniture" has more to do with the modernists and the work that they produced between the 1920s and then 1950s.

The Arts and Crafts Movement arose as a reaction to the nonsensical ornament that was applied to most pieces of furniture that were produced during the middle of the 19th century. Though the furniture was, generally, machine-produced, it was still heavily decorated with machine-cut, catalog-generated patterns and embellishments. Some saw the patterns and forms--which were basically leftovers from the previous age--of that period's "classic design furniture" as extravagant and wholly unnecessary.

Redefining Classic Design Furniture

In England, a group or artists, craftsmen, and designers banded together to change popular conception of furniture house wares, emphasizing better function through design. They began producing wallpapers, furniture and other items, concentrating on the function of the object and on the emotional resonance that an object is capable of forming with a person. The Arts and Crafts Movement is the root of what many consider modern industrial design.

After the Arts and Crafts Movement, furniture and architecture went though a rapid period of immense change. The materials explorations that developed at the tail end of the Art Nouveau movement and the maturation of the Bauhaus institution contributed to the shift by producing a number of designers that laid the foundation for Modernism in design and architecture. Designers such as Breuer, Mies van der Rohe, and Le Corbusier produced furniture during this period that has been called "classic" since it was first released.


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