Last week we kicked off our brief history of furniture styles with a look into some truly ancient furnishings! Beginning at the stone age with simple wooden and bone furniture, through to Ancient Egypt with its plentiful adornments of precious metals and brightly-coloured decorations. Today we’ll move swiftly through the Ancient periods in Greece and Rome, showing how they were influenced by the Ancient Egyptians before them and what they added to their furniture to create their own distinctive styles.
Ancient Greek furniture dates back over 3000 years and took heavy inspiration from its Egyptian predecessors. Furniture styles in Ancient Greece started off almost indistinguishable from Ancient Egyptian furnishings: sharp, stiff, and straight edges on square or rectangular pieces often constructed from gilded wood. As the Ancient Greek period progressed, their furniture became more and more distinctively Greek, adopting a more flowing style, with curved or wavy legs and edges becoming more common on seating and beds. The most famous piece of Ancient Greek furniture is the Klismos chair. A klismos was a design of chair unique to the Ancient Greeks at the time, featuring legs that curved outwards away from the seat and a semi-circular backrest. For multiple people to be seated, the Greeks had couches or benches known as “klinai”, topped with decorative interwoven fabrics. These often came with legs carved into the shape of animal paws and, like our modern sofas, cushions stuff with wool, feathers, or leaves. Ancient Greece left a lasting mark on the history of seating; the modern English word “throne” is derived from the Greek “thronos”, which referred to a seat made for a king or deity to sit at.
The furniture of the Ancient Romans was similar to that of the Greeks but often with a unique twist on usage. We also have more examples of well-preserved furniture from this period due to the eruption of Mount Vesuvius covering Pompeii and Herculaneum in ash, providing perfect opportunities for high quality pieces to be unearthed by excavation efforts by archaeologists. Ancient Roman furniture adopted Ancient Greek furniture but utilised them within culturally Roman settings. The klinai, for example, were used in dining halls in Rome and across ancient Italia, seating up to three and arranged in a U-shape around a table, allowing 9 to eat together with one side free for the serving of food.
At William Wood Mirrors we have a huge range of mirrors and furniture to browse through, so we have something for everyone! If you’re on the market, take a look at our products today! Click back to our blog next week for part 3!