The furniture for common use begins to appear at the end of normadic life with solid wood, brick or stone housing construction.
Some types of furniture (tables, beds, chests, chairs, thrones, stools) were already known at the time of the Egyptians. The history of furniture can be defined only from XVth century, when establishes uniformity of stylistic tendency, taking from time to time esthetic differences related to the period or circumstances.
Ancient era The use of furniture is already documented in the ancient civilizations, including the Assyrians, ancient Egypt and ancient Chinese civilization. The depictions of Greek vases show us various kinds of furniture: thrones, chairs, beds and tables. The Etruscans and ancient Romans were using the beds, tables, seats and wardrobes as well. In wealthier houses there were tables and furniture, made from materials such as bronze, iron, marble and ivory.
The most ancient country, where the samples of antique furniture have been kept to our days, is Egypt. This country widely used wood and always imported from neighbour countries. The antique Egyption furniture was entirely made of ebony. The oldest samples already known to us, were found in the tombs of pharaohs of the first dynastic period (3400-2980 BC). There are fragments of ebony caskets adorned with ivory, chairs with legs like hooves of animals (chairs made of ebony, but legs made of ivory).From III Dynasty (29802000 BC) are reached to our days the ebony beds, chairs and several boxes adorned with blue and malachite green, turquoise and ivory, with legs depicting lions paws or hooves of bulls. The front and back legs of the furniture coincide to the front and back pows of the animals. During the Middle Kingdom (2000-1500 BC) the art of carpentry with impressive measures reached its flourishing. For example, exterior and interior doors between pylons of Large Karnak Sanctuary are made each one of 5 m width and 20 m height. The several parts of the doors are connected by wooden nails and wedges always at a 45 °angle, to prevent cracks in different directions, (in the same way were fixed the coffins found in the most ancient tombs, related to IV millennium B.C). The details of the seats were fixed by cross joints. The Egyptology Petri’s explorations have shown, that for many years curves on the furniture were obtained artificial curving of tree trunks.
Now we can discuss each item separately. Chair with four vertical legs has additional legs, that are connected to those above. The folding chair has four legs as well, but they are attached to each other by diagonal sticks. The lower parts have the shape of duck’s head. The upper end is wrapped with leather or reeds. Sometimes the armchairs had a small table function. Besides the ordinary chairs, existed double chairs with legs depicting lions paws and hooves of the bulls. The backs of such chairs were straight and massive. The back was fixed by rabbet joint . Sometimes the backs were bent. In such cases, back of the chairs were fixed by special sticks on back legs. Explicit construction of Egyptian furniture was the source for its durability.
Richly decorated chairs and thrones on sides were adorned with lion formed arms. Backs were covered with engravings of symbolic nature. Precious metal coat of arms covered with colored enamel, were covering different parts of these chairs. So the upper part of famous pharaoh Tutankhamonâ€™s chair is decorated by gold plate with shape of the sun.(Symbol of God Ra) The incrustation of furniture was used very often in XXIII Dynasty (745-718 A.C).
The frame of bed is bent in half with a small back headrest. On the frame is tied a piece of leather. The legs of the bed look like the paws of animals. So the front legs resemble the front paws and back legs to back paws. The chests with backs and arms (used as the chairs) were made with great conciseness. They were consisted of frames with rolled transverse bars, that gave the guarantee of absence of crevices in wood and twisting during millennia. The chests adorned with backs and arms, caskets and coffins were painted with bright colors and decorated with silver and gold. Especially the richly decorated casket of jewelry was found in the tomb of Amenofisa the III (1411-1375 B.C) Itâ€™s surface is so richly decorated, that the most part of ebony is hardly seen. In Egypt to manufacture the furniture was used the long resistant types of wood. The wood was imported from Cilicia (Asia Minor), Punta (Abyssinia) and other places. It was also used as materials the wood of wild fig, yew, cedar, sycamore and olive. Tools of Egyptian furniture makers were an ax, a two-handled saw, a wooden hammer and special instrument for cutting. The surface of wood was polished with heavy stones. This way were depriveing the roughness.
The seating furniture, tables and chests adorned with backs and arms and caskets were mostly covered with white paint to serve as a background for decoration. Splendent samples of luxuriously decorated furniture were discovered in 1922, in the tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamon, related to 1350 BC. Among found items is very interesting double wooden ark to preserve culting rilics. The rectangular formed ark, which is totally covered with lacquer is placed on support. On each side of ark, there are wooden figures of guarding goddesses. The top of the ark is adorned with rich cornice decorated with numerous sacred snakes and coat of arms of god Ra above. In the tomb of Tutankhamon, besides the furniture was also found a numerous wooden cart of very interesting construction.
No less rich was the furniture of the countries of Mesopotamia. In particular, among the Assyrians appear the thrones, beds and chairs decorated with animal-like legs; the furniture was variously enriched with engravings of precious woods and ivory. The Semitic Mediterranean people (mainly Jews and Phoenicians) did not develop their own style of furnishing, they copied from the Assyrians and the Babylonians. In Jewish world for its originality we can distinguish Solomonâ€™s ceder bed with silver pilasters.
The center of the best expression and use of decorative art in antiquity is now identified with Minoan civilization in Crete. The paintings of famous palace of Knossos with its grand throne, Festo, Haghia Triada, ceramics of Camares, vases, gold items and all discoveries displayed now in major museums, is demonstration of refined and elegant taste.
The Greek furniture
We have not many remains of ancient Greece. From archaeological discoveries and valuable descriptions of Homeros, it is possible to reconstruct a smooth transition to Hellenic period after severe Doric invasions. In Classical or Hellenistic period, in the houses of rich aristocrats were famous the painted walls, ceilings of plaster and paintings on the walls. Fundamental furnitures were the wedding beds of various forms, chairs, rectangular or circular formed tables (often triple legged) and chests for keeping the objects. Many of them were identical to the furniture of Roman houses.
The geometric Greek and Etruscan beds can be inspired by Phoenician and Syrian beds. Turned leged beds appear at the beginning of VI century BC. They were also used for relaxation in comfortable position during the banquets.
Etruscans and Romans
In Rome, in the Augustan period and later, is noticed a continuous enrichment of furniture, that made patrician houses very wealthy and the most magnificent of ancient world. The famous discoveries of Herculaneum and Pompeii are the most convincing evidences of it. The backs of the chairs (in V century BC appeared bent ones) become more and more higher, and the bed turned into real sofa. The Roman triclinium for the banquet was initially formed by three beds arranged around a table, that subsequently turned into a single sigma circular formed sofa. The main innovation of this period was wall cabinet. The armchairs had a great importance in life of Roman Empire and some of them became real masterpieces e.g.: well engraved and decorated special judge chair, the subsellium (a kind of very large chair) and cathedra (in bronze or stone). In processing of furniture, was already in use the incrustation of ivory. The materials used for legs were also silver, bronze and marble. The furniturs were completed by different decors (chandeliers, lamps, incense, burners) and carpets, cushions and curtains. Both in Hellenistic Greece and in Rome, the houses were decorated with rich mosaics and polychromatic plaster.
The Middle Ages
In the Middle Ages furniture was reduced and as the most common element remained the simple shaped furniture of wood. For the houses of the richest nobles, churches and monasteries were made more elaborate furniture both for civil (thrones, benches, seats, tables, beds, chests) and religious use (altars, desks, shrines, chests , cubicles, sacristy cabinets, bookshelves). Long period was necessary to make and complete the furniture and as well to wark on precious metals, ivory and marbles. The constructions of beds, tables and chests were often easily removable.(It was possible their easy transportation).
The Gothic furniture The furniture of Gothic period must be particularly mentioned, which also differs with method of decoration. While Romanesque furniture was depicted, Gothic style offered the sculptural decoration by reproduction of architectural motives. With time develops also the technique of furniture construction: now at first sets the solid frame with vertical and horizontal sticks, which later is covered with panels of different wood. So the furniture becomes more elegant and attractive. In private homes, however, the furniture is few, simple and essential, that responds the common needs of life: in terms of practicality, the size of furniture is proportionally convenient to man and his environment. For its multifunctionality, the chest becomes the fundamental furniture, that can be used from time to time as a wardrobe, chair or even a bed. As a beautiful furniture of this period, is considered the music-stand. Later it will leave its civil characteristic feature and will become an item of church use. On beds were placed curtains with coats of arms or brightening stars. In 1332, in Augsburg was founded the first saw mill and finally became possible to make the boards of desired thickness. This allowed a significant improvement of making the furniture and influenced well on furnishing the house. In response of changed social conditions, demand on furniture increases by bourgeois strata, consisted of merchants and craftsmen. No coincidence, that in those years appeared the first corporation of handicraft furniture makers.
The use of polychrome glass (another manifestation of the highest expression of the handicraft forms of Gothic period), enriched and warmed environments, especially the churches.
Example of Gothic architecture
The Renaissance style starts in Florence in XV century. This is a style demonstrating an interst towards the classical antiquity and refusing the medieval conceptions. From Italy it was spread in rest of Europe and gradually took the place of Gothic style.
Florentine wedding chest of XV century (M.A.N. Madrid)
Flourishes also the taste for furnishing, which in harmony with house architecture gains in importance of space. Elegant, no overly luxurious furniture is expression of great desire of comfort and richness, that is characteristic for this period. This taste is still visible in the city buildings and the ancient medieval castles out of town, where the most famous artists decorated floors, ceilings, furniture and silverware. Especially was developed the ceramic. The art of furniture, with its own characteristic features continues to be influenced by the architecture from region to region, that is in search of harmony with lines and proportions: the rooms are decorated with columns, pilasters, friezes and medallions, and the wardrobes,chest of drawers and sideboards take the form of small buildings adorned with niches and pediments. Furniture becomes a masterpiece,though it is an item of everyday use. In Germany the furniture was so much full of decorative superstructure,that sometimes was losing its original character. With regard to the construction materials, in the period of Renaissance was preferred oak, walnut or ebony, were used the nails and gold, ivory and mother- of- pearl were used for decoration. In Italy, it was also created the new furniture, such as wedding chests, chests with backs and arms, and column formed canopies for beds. In that period were also producing secretaires, sideboards and upholstered chairs. It was very common the kneeler, that is found not only in cultic buildings, but also in private homes. The table is no longer removable furniture, but is firm one, with well-polished surface and turned legs. Among the various forms of tables, we have to remember the refectory table, which is hold by two nailed, fixed by plugs, column formed, simple or turned legs. France, by producing the furniture also differs in this period, where in XV century the style of furniture was named as the reigning king (Louis XIV, XV, ...). The French decorations, particularly are distinguished by a mixture of leaves, animals and architectural motifs. In period of Renaissance, in rich and noble houses, gains in importance some type of furniture e.g. beds, which have as additional elemets the lugs and canopies adorned with curtains and precious materials. This style was initially founded in Italy, where artists were inspired by classical sources of Rome and its ruins, and only after wars carryed out by Louis XII and Francis I, the new culture was spread also in Europe. Later, this tendency was spread in Kingdom of Naples and Sicily, in Spain, in Flanders, in Germany and England.
Wedding case. Exposed in Bagatti Valsecchi Museum in Milan
In Italy, in the period of late Renaissance was founded Baroque style. It proposed the newest motives in architecture, which made the great influence on furniture and interior decoration. The transition was gradual, because some furniture continued to maintain the medieval characteristics. In the period of Baroque became stronger the style of turned columns, was spread the technique of marquetry and started the use of veneers. The progressive enrichment of forms and structures at the beginning was occured by certain elements. Only later they became an integral part of the furniture. We can see their first traces at the end of Renaissance, that is clearly visible from so-called example â€œCabinet of Rubensâ€?. In subsequent years, the same motives were increasingly visible on chairs, wardrobes and tables of Baroque style decorated by seashells and acanthus leaves. Generally, meaningful feature of the furniture and other decorations of this period is given by the movement of architectonical masses:
• preference for curved and sinuous lines • displaying of gilded ornaments and precious materials, such as stones or metals. An identical style is also found on silver, covers and furniture adornments. The furniture makers begin to combine the decorative elements with construction. As an alternative, with well-established technique of engraving and sculpture, begins the use of veneer (inclusion on furniture surfaces incrusted thin pieces of fine wood or tortoiseshell). Besides the walnut, very popular are foreign trees. One of the reasons of furniture development of that period, was reinforcement of royal and princely courts, demanding the adornment of large halls with furniture and pleasant environment. The halls were decorated with more or less precious or richliy colored marble surfaced consoles, with huge mirrors, armchairs, chairs, sofas and tables (all of them without distinction are of great proportions). On table surfaces were often used the imitative trees or marbles adorned by incrustation or paintings. The gold for Baroque style is very actual. The Baroque style furniture, from Rome was spread to other Italian regions: Piedmont, Naples and Venice, where accepted its own characteristics.Baroque achieved the great success at the beginning of XVII century. The Roman style of Baroque reached France, where it was developed with own forms of lightness and grace and became known as style of Louis XIV, the ruler of that time called “the Sun King”. Such kind of transformation was caused by the changes, which France underwent in that period: in the conditions of absolutism established by Louis XIV, the whole world saw. that the king was on top of the social ladder. Among the various strict court etiquettes existed the law, that prescribed for each person sitting in front of the king, type of chair with special height and backrest. The style of Louis XIV subjugated all other styles and was spread from France throughout Europe except Spain, where was the strong influence of Naples and continued to prefer the Italian Baroque.
Baroque style furniture 1-armchair(Italy); 2-Cabinet(Germany); 3-triple legged table(Italy); 4-Cabinetâ€?Boulleâ€?(France) 5armchair(France)
AndrĂŠ-Charles Boulle (1642-1732)
The greatest master of "French royal style" period was Fleming Andre Charles Boulle, known for his majestic and monumental furniture. Combination of brass, ebony, gilded bronze tortoiseshell gave to his works truly royal look. In 1679 Boulle led furniture workshops in Louvre, expanded them and increased the artistic and quality fitures of furniture. Talant of Boulle was multifaced. He is known for his work in architecture and painting. Museums of France keep his drawings and engravings, but an international fame was achieved by his ingenious invention. It was furniture decoration with original combination. Finer Baroque ornaments, scrolls and leaves cut on copper, tin and sometimes on silver, distinguish from the polished tortoiseshell ormaments. All this splendor is perfectly emphasized on calked and gilded bronze. Boulle used the following technique: two thin plates of tortoiseshell and brass are lightly glued to each other, one of them is applied by desired ornament, which is simultaneously sawed through with scroll saw, until the ornament will not drop out of the plate. Than by putting in the copper ornament against the background of tortoiseshell is achieved a consummate mastery of Boulle. This technique gave the greatest possibility of creating simultaneously two objects with complete absence of waste. This technique has been known before, but Boulle brought it to perfection and used it so successfully, that was awarded his name. Glory of the famous furniture maker was so great, that his name in Russian became nominal, to describe some furniture forms not having any relationship with Boulle. Andre-Charles Boulle was the honorary titled wooden master of the king. His four sons have continued his father's work, but the fashion for such products gradually died and revived only in the middle of XVIII century. At first appeared the furniture made in technique of Boulle and later of his style, where the tortoiseshell was replaced with mastic, celluloid or a turtle tinted imitation. But even beyond a great imitation, furniture designed in style of the famous furniture maker of XVII century, look luxuriously and decorate even the most modern interiors.
Creator Andre-Charles Boulle, nearly 1705
Creator Charles Boulle
In XVIII century, in the period of Enlightenment, begins the use of new type furniture. It was caused by changing the lifestyle of families and expansion of economic opportunities. At first these new requirements emerged in France and from royal courts was spread to stratum derived from bourgeoisie. Consoles, chests of drawers, corner furniture and desks were not only innovative furniture, but also lighter and more elegant. The period of Rococo (also called by the name of King Louis XV) starts in the middle of XVIII century. By this time, in Italy are founding the production centers with famous workshops of craftsmen. Heirs of Meragliano, Genoese furniture makers, Pietro Piffetti from Turin, the followers
of Andrea Brustolon from Venice and many other more or less known craftsmen adorned the various Italian courts with luxuries. During XVII-XVIII centuries, it is noticed a softening of rigid shaped style of Louis XIV. The magnitude of the lines are lost in asymmetric and nice compositions, so is founded Rococo (or the style of Louis XV in France). This time, it was not Italy, which offered to world the new taste, because it was developed mainly thanks to Cuvillier from south Germany and Meissonnier from France. Rococo style easily finds it’s place throughout the Europe. In England achieves an original appearance and becames known as Chippendale style, named after the great furniture maker Thomas Chippendale. In Italy, among the existed forms of Baroque dominates the Venetian. For furniture design predominates pigmental lacquer (natural and colored substance, used as protective and decorative coatings), but it goes beyond the chinoiserie; Venetian lacquer has its own nuances and develops in two ways: figured and floral lacquers. Also assume great importance glass, mirrors, ceramics and textiles. Even in the period of Rococo, furniture is not a separate masterpiece, but demonstrates the part of a spatial environment, where everything is in harmony with the wall paintings and mirrors. The founders tried to create proportionate, reduced and cozy furnished intimate atmosphere, which could become the woman’s domain. Everything loses its monumental and grandiose shapes and assume the new, soft, refined and round forms. It is very impressive a new creation called trumeau (pier), which consists of engraved and icrusted beautiful wood and precious mirrors. It presents the furniture divided in two parts: on lower part are placed the drawers and in the middle there is a high mirror up to the top. The demand on conveniences increases, so are created various type of chairs, armchairs, ottomans and sofas, round and light tables, law wardrobes and comfortable corner chests of drawers. The ornamental motives are mostly taken from East. Among the lacquer and chinoiserie, dominates the shell from which derives the name Rocaille or Rococo. In contrast with French Rococo, English Rococo invented by Thomas Chippendale is inspired by oriental motives, famous of its simplicity and practicality, that is unknown for other side of English Channel. Among the traditions of Italian craftsmanship, excels the art of Giuseppe Maggiolini, who created his own style, famous for its incrustation, precious and varied wark, called “Maggiolino”.
With regard to Rococo style, must be mentioned also the appearance of the table-desks and music halls, as it was the new tendency of holding the concerts. In those halls the ancient instruments such as harpsichord, were adorned with the same reserved style as the furniture.
In XVIII century, was created very comfortable and beautiful formed English furniture, that was spread far beyond England. These forms are actual even nowadays in furniture productions of different countries. In creation of these forms great merit belongs to remarkable furniture master Thomas Chippendale. He began to assemble his furniture giving to them lighter and more elegant forms of Rococo, improving their proportions and comfort. Furniture created by him was light, graceful and comfortable with beautiful proportions. Furniture of Chippendale in differ with French Rococo styled furniture, fashionable at that time was not painted or covered with gold leaves. Mostly demonstrated was the texture of wood. Wooden parts of objects were only covered with wax or clear lacquer. Chippendale founded in furniture manufacturing the use of such fine woods as red tree, lemon, etc. The most common furnitures were
lattice-backed chairs, sofa settee (compound one, two or three seats), cabinet-secretaires, chest of drawers with lots of moving drawer boxes, beds, etc. In the last third of XVIII century English furniture changes. The curved formed furniture of Chippendale is replaced by straight, clear lines typical of classical architecture. Architect Adam, who was in Italy in 1770, with his works inspired by the spirit of Italian and French Classicism, that received in his projects purely English character, promoted of spreading a new style of furniture. Sheraton and Hapluayt, working with Adam create a new trend in furniture with clear, accurate lines of Classicism. They created the manuals and projects with drawings and sketches of new furniture. After Chippendale style, in England existed Hapeluayt style and later was born Sheraton style. On Hapluaytâ€™s furniture were conserved many curves on the backsides and sofas. Sheraton style furniture had clear, straight lines and very finely painted details. It was widely used the selection of different wood by color and texture for panels and inlays (marquetry). Begins the creation of combined furniture - chests with hinged writing boards in conjunction with a bookcase and secretaire-cabinet in conjunction with china cabinet for porcelain.
Furniture proceeding to Baroque and Classicism Style (England) 1-Sofa of Chippendale; 2-Round table; 3-Cabinet-secretaire of Hapeluayt
Furniture of French classicism, which replaced the Rococo style is characterized by simplicity and clarity of proportions with strong expressed construction. It is never overloaded by details. (the style of Louis XVI). In France by the mid-70s of XVIII century became more common the chests of drawers, writting desks, secretaires for ladies, secretaries with straight legs with flat horizontal cornices and rods. Instead of gilding and painting, more privileged became the furniture of wood. As decoration were used marquetry (glued mosaic of different types of wood), bronze medallions and porcelain inserts.
For upholstering were used special pieced materials - tapestry or embroidered materials with image of flowers and pastoral scenes. Famous furniture masters of Classicism were Rizener, Venteman, Jacob, Rentgen and master of bronze Domir.
1-armchair (Berger,France); 2-armcair with tapestry; 3-secretaire adorned with bronze medallion; 4-ladyâ€™s writing desk; 5-table (Gerndon); 6-secretaire (David roentgen, France); 7-secretaire-cupboard with porcelain inserts.
Empire style (neo-classicism)
Empire style founders were the architects Charles Percier and Pierre-Franรงois Fontaine. This style is distinguished by massive structure and perfect symmetry of geometric shapes. The decorations are all in bronze. So furniture of Neo-Classical style, which reached full splendor during the reign of Napoleon I is gradually recovering its individuality. Not integrates any more with the rest of environments and seeks for the symmetry and balance of proportions. For decorations are used leaves, bunches of flowers and garlands. So the furniture retains the elegance and grace of Rococo style, but is presented by an unusual structure.
On furniture of XVIII century spreads the antiquity taste mentioned as the style of Louis XVI. The most influential persons Johann Joackim Winckelmann and Anton Raphael Mengs spread news and testimonies of antique life style of Romans and through them the Greeks. Giovanni Battista Piranesi, for its part, spreads decorative details inspired by Classicism. But sometimes the antique style was totally copied, using for decoration either Greek, Roman and Egyptian motives and also columns, friezes and pilasters. For this reason the style despite of cold tones, reached nobility only in imperial buildings.
By the end of XVIII century, in strict forms of French furniture is widely spread an adornment with antique details, such as: Ancient Roman shields, helmets, spears and other elements of the ancient ornament. This was associated with the excavation of Herculaneum and Pompeii started in 1755.
This type of furniture is characterized by polished, smooth and large sized surfaces chosen by special wood material. (doors and sides of wardrobe, secretaires, surfaces of tables etc.) For upholstering was selected mainly the silk materials. Mostly the palaces were decorated with Empire styled furniture.
American Colonial Furniture Style
Dominating American Colonial Style was started with brave founders Jamestown, Virginia, Massachusetts, Plymouth and their descendants. Mainly the British colonists established their customs and traditions towards the English furniture and architecture of period of the king Tudor and Steuarts. Colonial can be considered the furniture, created in America in this period. The discussion is not about an independent style, but is mentioned the furniture, which was creating in early period by the image of imported furniture by colonists. Later to increase the Colonial furniture industry and independence, main point was changing the English furniture styles among each other. Formation of American Colonial furniture can be divided into three stages: 1608-1720 years (late English Renaissance style), 1720-1780 years (the furniture of Dutch Baroque period and regency of the Kings George), 1780-1830 years (furniture made of walnut, mahogany, classical forms Hapeluayet and Sheraton). In 1776, after the declaration of independence, the analogue of British furniture style in the period of regency in America, became the federal style.
Style of Biedermeier
Founding this style is also caused by the influence of changing social conditions in Europe. After the Empire wars, in fact, there was a declination of furnishing taste. The unintelligent nature of new bourgeoisie and their
great desire to display the richness were reflected in variety of styles, that was followed by the period between the Battle of Waterloo and the Firs World War. In those years, nothing new was created especially luxury, because the convenience was considered to be on foreground. An exception was Duchesse De Berry, who offered the only example of good taste: in fact she made fashionable the bright wood furniture. In rest of Europe are discussing the style before March, where is meant March of 1848. This term was later replaced by Biedermeier, taken from the title of a collection of poems of German poet humorous Ludwig Eichrodt. It’s meaning is the sum of that time bourgeoisie atmosphere, the environment and taste of furnishing. It was invented the new furniture (e.g. bedside-table) and for wall adornment became actual the wallpapers instead of processed fabrics. In general the second Empire is a bad copy of Neo-Classicism. The style of Louis Philippe and finally the style of “Liberty” are respectively following stages of new concept of furnishing. For construction the furniture privileged are pear, beech and cherry trees. The furniture is made by offering already mentioned convenience and practicality. For example, it’s enough to remember the chairs, that followed the pose and the size of body. Even the decorations already have the influence of Romantic period. In that period appear the first compound furniture, such as sofas with drawers, chests of drawers with built-in glasses and shelves with mirrors. It is also in frequent use engraving, when is achieved pleasing effects by combination of different, more or less polished wooden surface. It must be mentioned that, although the tendency of flat and cold shapes of that period, existed the furniture, which was the combination of comfort, beautiful ornaments and quality. So was the confluence of classical severe style with exuberance and grace style of Rococo. Romantic style tries to recover the best of all previous tastes, but the upholstery and curtains are abundant and full of colors (often dark red).The damask or velvet covered walls make too heavy atmosphere. The straight lines give way again to curves, but disappears almost completely the use of gold, which was replaced by soft silhouettes of walnut and mahogany. On sofas and romantic small chairs, the backs and arms are sometimes profiled, while the other armchair surfaces are completely covered with warm colored satin or velvet. In frequent use for making the beds was wrought iron or brass.
1. Bed of Hungarian oak; 2 & 3. Biedermeier chairs from Vienna, 1820-30. 4. Table from the palace of Obernzenn. 5. Biedermeier sofa. 6.&7. Sewing tables fromVienna1820.
In Europe, between two world wars however aroused the problem of searching a new style. The solutions hesitated between Renaissance, Baroque and pure Functionality, that gradually changed the house into a “living machine”. Following years brought the new taste and the newest type of furniture, which had to be more modern and rational. Now the style of furniture was very much influenced by the frequent contacts with architectural companies and various schools of design.
Modern style furniture, Art Nouveau
Style of late XIX and early XX centuries introduced into the interior design entirely new decorative items. In Germany and Austria it was called “Yungendstilem”, in France –“Art Nouveau”, in Britain and Russia – “Modern”, in Italy –“Liberty”.
Luxurious, ornate, and at the same time organic style of furniture construction, known as Modern, was spread in 1890 - 1910 years. In appearance of this furniture style, made a great influence Japanese engraving and tendency-“ Arts and Crafts”. Based on these two different sources, the furniture of modern, Art Nouveau and Art Deco style developed in two directions: on the one part, the works of such artists as Aubrey Beardsley and on the other part geometric furniture design by Charles Rennie Mackintosh. All features of regional styles were reflected on modern style furniture. Only few masters were specialized in furniture manufacturing, other faithful followers of Art Nouveau were engaged in other varieties of arts and crafts. Among the followers of modern furniture mostly were architects, who controlled every detail of the interior in the buildings constructed by them. On their furniture is noticed the same intensive relationship between ornaments and structure, forms and functionality, as in architectural buildings of Art Nouveau. It is modern style furniture, on which can be seen unadorned elegance of curves and at the same time the passion towards decorative, engraved, copper and brass ornaments, usage of gold and ivory. Generally, the grate quantity of details and usage of different materials to create one product, caused the domestic industry of Art Nouveau furniture. In England like furniture masters of "Arts and Crafts Movement", modern furniture designers were forced to accept the fact, that their products were primarily luxurious and expensive masterpieces for elite. Furniture, manufactured by factory method, was losing many important qualities of modernity and was perceived as a rough semblance of handmade furniture.
Charles Rennie Mackintosh Rennie Mackintosh was born in Scotland, on June 7 of 1868, in the family of a police superintendent. He was the second child from eleven children in the family. In spite of parents efforts, Rennie chose as his profession design and architecture. From 1884 to 1889 he studied in famous school of art in Glasgow. After finishing the school, he made a significant contribution in the style of "Art Nouveau" or "Glasgow Style" with Herbert Mc Nair and sisters Margaret and Frances Mcdonalds. Career of Charles Rennie Mackintosh consisted of painful paradoxes. He became famous in Vienna and Darmstadt, but was not recognized in England and in his own country Scotland. He was a wonderful architect, a talented interior and furniture designer. He became the founder of one of the important tendency of art of early XX century. Though he was almost forgotten by everyone even before his death. Mackintosh worked out every detail of the project from building common construction, careful study of interior design, creating of stained- glass windows up to tableware and napkins. Misfortune pursued the whole art of genius artist. Most of his works were not completed or later were destroyed. Tissues, created by him were not successful, watercolor painting did not find acceptance and the furniture was unnoticed by his contemporaries. Recently, Mackintosh forgotten by everyone, becomes the idol of designers and architects of the whole civilized world. By great painstaking starts the reconstruction of his buildings, little by little becomes possible to gather his legacy, millions of copies of his various products adorned with famous roses, lines and fonts are already available. Thousands of his magnificent chairs are sold, by different names are reproduced his matchless interiors, but cynically and relentlessly is exploited his funny, tender delicate and aristocratic pure English name Mackintosh.
Liberty or Art Nouveau Art Nouveau was founded in 1890. The name comes from Parisian shop, "L’Art Nouveau Bing," opened in 1895 by Siegfried Bing, where were exposed different innovative design objects, including furniture, tapestry and other various art patterns. One of the most important feature of this style is inspiration by nature, from which studies the structural elements, transforming them into a dynamic and undulating lines. Simple figures seem to alive and get the forms of plants and flowers. As a trend of art movement, ”Art Nouveau” has some resembles with Pre-Raphaelite and Symbolist painters and some persons like Aubrey Beardsley, Alphonse Mucha, Edward Burne-Jones, Gustav Klimt and Jan Toorop can be belonged to one of these styles. Though in differ with Symbolist artists, “Art Nouveau” has a certain visual style and does not look like Pre-Raphaelites, who are favored by past. The “Art Nouveau” does not make the formalization of
new materials, finished surfaces and abstract elements. In architecture and interior design “Art Nouveau” avoided the eclectic historicism characterized of Victorian period. The artists of “Art Nouveau” instead of Victorian classical naturalistic ornaments, chose and modernized some elements of Rococo style, such as flame and shell decorations and ornaments. The nature is considered as an inspiration, but the forms are clearly stylized and to a list are added expressions of algae, grasses and insects. Features of the style are organic shapes, curved lines, ornaments with plant and animal expressions. Japanese engraving with curved shapes, illustrated surfaces, contrastive ornaments and absolute flatness of some engravings were an important sources of inspiration. Some samples of ornaments became clichés, that later were used by the artists around the world. Another factor of great importance is, that “ Art Nouveau” did not deny the usage of equipments, as it did the other contemporary movements such as” Arts & Crafts”, but used and made their integration. In architecture and sculpture were used the glass and stamped iron. ” Art Nouveau” was configured as a wide-ranging spectrum style, that involved the most various fields: architecture, interior design, jewelry art, furniture and fabrics design, dishes, lighting and etc. Today ”Art Nouveau” is considered as precursor of the most innovative movements of the XX century, such as Expressionism, Cubism, Surrealism, Art Deco and later the Modern architecture (in Italy also known as Rationalism). At the end of XX century in the conditions of accelerating business life, increases the desire for convenience and comfort. Begins the search of new way of furnishing and forms of furniture. The basic principles of Modern (French Moderne - the newest, contemporary) was first formulated by its ideologist and founder the Belgian architect Van de Velde.The representatives of Modernism tried to use the equipments to produce such practical objects, that could be utilitarian and beautiful simultaneously. Modern theorists configured the conception, that the architecture of the building, the interior and furniture must demonstrate the one whole ensemble. With the slogan “back to the nature”- armed Modern created a complex system of lined ornaments, which was based on stylized flowers and plants motives, using the strange forms inspired by fantasy, that was often contrary to logic (pic. 2 b,c). It denied the principles of Classicism and completely refused the symmetry. Ornament masked the construction and was not in touch with it. Sometimes it was very private the attitude towards the material. However, these and other drawbacks did not prevent Modern style to spread quickly in all Europe. “Art Nouveau” was created artificially influenced by fashion and did not last long. It was fully exhausted before the I world War. The historical significance of modern is that, it put an end to an eclectic dominance and gave the way to modern architecture and art of household objects. In the second half of XIX century in the period of Modern and Eclecticism, in the furniture industry progressive tendencies were demonstrated by curved furniture makers. Cheap furniture became of massive production. It was different by technology and unity of constructive and artistic solutions. (Fig.3a). Wooden, curved furniture had a long and difficult pass.
Art Deco (from French: Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes- International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Art) demonstrated the decorative art tendecy at the beginning of XX century, which made a great influence on architecture, fashion and the visual arts of that time. The name Art Deco derives from the International Exhibition of Paris in 1925 -Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes(international exhibition of decorative art and modern technics) . There were presented luxuries of Parisian fashion, which reassured the world, that Paris still remained an international center of style after the I World War. However, the history of Art Deco does not start with this exposition; at the beginning of 1920 it was already one of the main styles in Europe, though it reached the U.S.A only in 1928, where made the quick transformation in so called “Streamline Moderne” (decade, strictly associated with American Art Deco) in1930. Paris remained the highest center of Art Deco design, with furniture by Jacques Emile Ruhlmann, ( the best furniture designer of Art Deco style and perhaps the last among the traditional Parisian furniture makers), also by enterprise of Jean Jacques Rateau “Sue et Mare”, by the panels of Eileen Gray, by the works of wrought iron of Edgar Brandt, by the metal and lacquered objects of Jean Dunand, by the glass works of René Lalique and Maurice Marinot and by the watches and jewelry by Cartier. Art Deco is characterized by the usage of materials such as aluminum, stainless steel, lacquer, inlaid wood, shark or zebra skin. A zigzag or chess forms, multicolour wide curved lines (different from the carves of “Art Noveau), “V” type and sun rays motives are massively used. Some of these motives were used to create the works very different from each other; e.g. sun rays formed motives were used for the women's shoes, for thermosyphone grilles, for auditorium of the Radio City Music Hall and for spire of the Chrysler Building. Art Deco was considered as an opulent style, that is probably reaction towards the severe economic regime during the I World War. The Art Deco was a very popular style for the cinema interiors and ocean liners, such as “Ile de France” and “Normandie”. The style tendency, that was developing simultaneously with Art Deco and was strictly connected with it is “Streamline” or “Streamline Moderne”, which was influenced by manufactured and aerodynamic techniques, founded from developing the science and massive production of objects, such as projectiles or liners, where the aerodynamics was involved as well. In 1933, when design of “Chrysler AirFlow” became successful, started the usage of "streamlined" forms for objects such as refrigerators or sharpeners. In architecture, this style was characterized by rounded corners, used especially for buildings on crossroads.
Art Deco is considered by some historians as a primitive form of Modernism or the Modern architecture. In fact, Italian Rationalism used some elements of this artistic expression mixed with rational structures, particularly in the cities of Italy founded during the Fascist period and in colonies (Dodecanese, Libya, Eritrea, Ethiopia), where confluence of local tradition and a certain exotic taste were conducting as a red line. As the most significant examples, we can nominate several palaces of Rhodes, which bear the most obvious signs, while the newly founded, essentially rationalistic cities as Portolago on Greek island Leros or Sabaudia in Italy, where only some building keep the features of Art Deco. After the time, when Art Deco reached the massive production, it was slowly developing in the West, where it was the theme for mock, because it was considered as tasteless style and presented a false image of luxury. Finally, this style stopped its existence during the II World War. In colonial countries such as India, Art Deco became the starting point of Modernism and continued to be used until the 1960. There was a renewed interest towards Art Deco in the 80’s. The reason was graphic design of that period and connection between the “film noir” and fashion of 30’s gave the opportunity to make it actual again and reuse in jewelry.
High-Tech (from Eng. High Technology) is the last from interior design styles of XX century. High-Tech is a natural continuing of Minimalism, expressing ideological formula of purity and perfection of modern interiors. High-Tech promotes esthetics of the newest technologies and materials, that’s why the house in the style of High-Tech reminds us a spaceship. This style is characterized by clear geometric shapes and lightness. High-Tech furniture surfaces must be perfectly finished and smooth, the metal elements and hardware silvery and bright. In High-Tech styled interiors, there are mostly the combination of space and light, than a color and painting. Complete lack of décor, is balanced by "work" of used materials. This style allows only uncompromisingly clean, clear lines of the walls, ceiling, floor, window and door frames.
High â€“Tech Furniture
Generally High-Tech styled sofas and chairs are with low and deep seats, with metal arms and legs, pouffe is low and shapeless without legs. Sofas and chairs often have removable covers with pockets for remote controls, newspapers, etc. In the history of furniture style already entered as a separate line the High-Tech styled kitchens, which are now at the peak of popularity. High-Tech kitchen is a whole world, where every detail is thought- out by creator, to make it most functional. This High-Tech kitchen interior blends well with consumer electronics. Dishes from frosted glass and practical lightweight plastic chairs are harmonious addition to interior.
Basic colors are: white, pale blue, gray, red, metallic, "Camel" (dirty red). Used materials: glass polished metal, lightweight plastic, a bit of wood. High-Tech style is very popular among energetic people, who follow the time pass by pass. It absolutely satisfies the taste of businessman, who appreciates the clarity and exactness.
Denying the necessary in favor of essentials - that is the fundamental postulate of Minimalism. The essence of style is defined by its name, and the principle of interior design is completely defined by the phrase "a little - it's a lot." A minimum is observed in all from number and shapes of furniture up to the colors. Minimalism is especially important now, when the man is tired from constant noise of the street, bright advertisings and continuous flow of information. The main features of Minimalism styled interiors are: clarity of composition, the maximum simplicity of design, monochrome, large planes and exact geometric shapes (sometimes are allowed slightly curved shapes). Modern interior of Minimalism style is based on modeling of space and light - furniture and walls lose their customary forms and boundaries, creating the illusion of boundless space and weightlessness. The abundance of white, underlined gray or black, soft ambient light and complete lack of decor gives to mind an opportunity to think, creating the sense of lightness and filling the space with air. Small quantity of objects in the room, attract immediately an attention with quality of materials. All surfaces must be necessarily perfect and ideal. Zoning of the room is usually carried out by color of the floor, lighting, windows and sliding doors.
Minimalism styled furniture
It must be mentioned, that in Minimalism styled interior practically there is no furniture. We can see only the most necessary objects. Furniture stands on thin metal legs or is completely devoid of them, the table can be separated from the floor only with five centimeters. Facades planes have no relief and the door no handles. Expressiveness is achieved by color contrast or materials. Used materials: aluminum, chrome, stainless steel, frosted glass, natural wood, natural stone, plastic, also
contrasting combinations of linen and cotton, concrete and natural stone and polished wood. Primary colors are: light, quiet tone for the floor, ceiling and walls, white, black, gray, and bright colours for a few interior objects.
Copying the old styles gives an opportunity of formal coexistence of several style elements in one interior. To some extent, Eclecticism has always been inevitable result of relation among the different cultures, but it became the most important principle of art only in XIX century. Eclectic interiors are generally multicomponent. This style is characterized by silk covers and warm heavy draperies for windows and the doors, soft sofas with decorative pillows, Indian blankets, rugs, decorative frames for pictures and mirrors. In the style ornamentation dominate the Oriental motives. Mostly is used the dark wood. Instead of buffets appear sideboards and a desk takes the place of secretaire. Seats of the chairs become lower and the backs are raised above the head. Luxurious furniture was covered with silk.
Genesis of Kitsch is associated with repetition and reconsideration of already established classical models, but in the process of repetition often occurs excessiveness, such as: other material, measures, environment and etc. Even the most famous manufacturers try to demonstrate and not to hide the technical progress achievements. Return to nature and underlined ecological compatibility is the mixture of real retro and itâ€™s fantasy. Colours: from shiny pink, poison green and violet, is leading an aggressive red.