Welcome to our final instalment of this mini blog series! Over the last month or so we’ve broken down major furniture styles existing from the Stone Age all the way through to the 20th century. Now we look at the final few designs bringing up through to the present day.
Due to the industrial revolution, cheap mass-produced furniture became commonplace throughout society. This drove the Revival Era of furniture styles, which eventually led to the re-emergence of curved, artistic design of the Art Nouveau movement. Bauhaus was the successor to this movement, emerging in Germany in 1919. The Bauhaus design was created by Walter Gropius, an architect, who wanted to create a holistic approach which encompassed everything from exterior design to interior furnishings. Bauhaus design is characterised by neat, straight lines, bright colours, and the use of new materials like chrome, stainless steel, and plastic. Bauhaus design strongly influenced the future of furniture.
Art Deco arose in Paris as a reaction to (and a successor of) the Art Nouveau era. The linier symmetry and bold tapered lines of Art Deco pieces signified a departure from the curvy and slim features of Art Nouveau design. The use of more interesting shapes and geometric patterns emerged as the design took inspiration from cubism. Like Bauhaus, Art Deco design also applied to architecture and artwork; iconic structures like the Empire State Building were created in the Art Deco style. The popularity of Art Deco died out during the austerities of World War II.
Modern furniture arose from the post-WWII era and brought with it new and more inventive materials and designs. The movement sought to produce new, original ideas and innovative designs. Plastics, metals, plywood, and fibreglass all feature heavily in modern design along with carved laminated wood and vibrantly patterned fabrics in a mixture of curved and linear design. Moulded plastics were also very popular and items like egg chairs emerged for the first time. Modern design led directly to the contemporary designs we see today!
This concludes our blog series detailing a very brief history of furniture styles. It is important to note that many have been missed – more than have even been covered – as for every major design era there are countless subgenres and regional variances which would take a whole book to discuss! The styles described here are also firmly within a Western framework, as the traditional furnitures of East Asia, Africa, and the Americas, have all developed separately from this timeline. But the eras analysed here offer a snapshot of the history of furniture design through the major styles which influenced and inspired European furniture to this day!