Custom Wood Furniture & Its History July 19 2013, 0 Comments
Wood was one of the primary materials that humans first worked with to make items that enabled them to perform their daily tasks of living more efficiently and more comfortably (i.e. tools, furniture). The earliest civilizations to show records of woodworking were the Chinese and the Egyptians. Until transportation and trade became available, the types of wood these early civilizations used were varieties native to their geographic regions.
Prior to the industrial age, a cabinetmaker was responsible for the design and production of any furniture-related piece. In other words, the cabinetmaker designed freestanding pieces such as tables and chairs -- as well as larger case goods, including items such as built-in cabinetry and armoires. In the late 18th century there were several well-known cabinetmakers whose “style” of design carries their name to this day. The list of such designers / cabinet makers include Hepplewhite, Chippendale, Sheraton, and Shaver.
The Industrial Revolution, which began in Great Britain in the late 18th Century and lasted into the early 19th Century, changed the face of manufacturing, and greatly impacted almost every area of life from economic politics to social structure. Steam power replaced man power as the primary fuel of production (read more on my Steampunk Blog), and with that came the end to a way of life that was many centuries old. Steam power allowed for the birth of mass production. Now goods and services that were once only available to the aristocracy, were obtainable by more and more people. We saw the emergence of a new social structure. The middle class, as we refer to it today, had arrived!
You may be asking, "Starley!!!! What the heck does any of this have to do with custom wood furniture??" I am just about to get to it!!!! :) So now we have an increased demand for goods that can be produced at a faster and more affordable rate than ever before. The "new working class" is now the primary consumer and producer of these goods. The ability to produce the same thing over and over again is a reality! The small cabinetry shop had ceased to be the main source of furniture and cabinetry production. The cabinetmaker and/or woodworker was becoming more of what we think of them to be today -- a craftsman. They are a part of the specialized trade that we seek when we want a product that is truly unique and custom. The custom furniture maker and/or designer is the expert we turn to when we want or need a furniture piece that can't be found sitting, prefabricated, on the floor of a big box store! This piece of furniture will be made to fit your unique niche perfectly!
I hope that the last two blog posts have helped shed some light on the reasons as to why and when one should seek a custom furniture designer/maker. In my next blog, I am going to tackle some issues that you as the consumer should be aware of when you are looking for your custom furniture specialist. So please stay tuned!! Much more to come!