Monday, February 9, 2009


SO if you google "Shaker furniture," you will find how famous and influential the Shaker style of furniture making really is. It was difficult to find sites that had any information on their construction and what not. Almost every site that popped up was a commercial site selling Shaker, or Shaker-influenced, furniture. The design is said to be timeless, allowing the beauty of the wood and the pure functionality of the object to speak without ornamentation. There are obviously some aesthetic decisions made in the execution of these pieces, such as proportions and minimal adornment in the form of knobs and tapers in the wood; however, the design is minimal and used to highlight the functionality of the design. The beauty of an object came from its use, so the functionality of the design of each object is where the beauty rested.

Here are some examples of quintessentially Shaker furniture from a museum collection:
This is a prominent style of chair with the high ladder back and a woven seat. What I particularly like about this design is how frugal it is. The seat does not need to be made out of wood so it is woven out of less time intensive, less costly, yet very functional material.
Here is a Shaker side table. The aesthetic design of this piece seems inherent in the table itself because it is so minimal. But the gentle taper of the legs and the pleasant proportions of the top, to the drawer, to the legs all represent aesthetic decisions that almost go unoticed.
Everything had its place in the home. All beds had frame. It seems like almost everything was made out of wood. The little boxes on top of the bed in this image were very common. The environment inside the home seemed so clean and sterile. Nothing was un-orderly.

I have never noticed a specific style being "Shaker" before. But now that I know what it looks like, I can see its infkuence in design almost everywhere that sell furniture. It truly is timeless. And the sterile environment where everything has its place and is almost disgustingly organized is something I see in every home and garden magazine on the market.

While I enjoy ornate adornement in design, I really appreciate the minimal nature of this furniture. I find the wood itself beautiful. It doesn't really need all the other stuff. Its naturally pleasing. I feel similarly with objects made out of glass. The uber fancy stuff is nice, but their is an elegance in the material itself that allows forms executed in plain clear glass without the over-the-top color patterns to be beautiful in and of themselves.

1 comment:

Squerl said...

Nice blog Sara, Shaker is amazing. My parents had two of the small tables you posted. I don't think they were authentic Shaker though. They were either store bought reproductions, or maybe my Dad made them. I really love that bed. I wish I had that bed right now. Do you happen to know, is the bed painted, or was it made from a dark wood like ebony?