Shaker furniture

From ArticleWorld


Shaker furniture refers to the distinctive yet simple and ascetic style of furniture designed and still often crafted by Amish Anabaptists in the US. Shaker furniture is regarded as one of the great American design innovations and traditions and today antique Shaker furniture as well as reproductions, 'authentic' pieces and Shaker-inspired objects are a growing segment of the US furniture market. The design aesthetic of Shaker tables, chairs, beds, cupboards, hatboxes, clocks and chests of drawers is remarkably akin to modernist furniture and architecture trends, which in large part accounts for its enduring appeal and influence.

Inspired by the tenets of the United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing of which they were a branch called the Quaking Shakers, the Shakers, on arriving in the United States to escape religious persecution in northern England settled down to build utopian society based on calm, celibate communal living, and values like pacifism, perfection in work, and equality of the sexes. This restrained and functional yet joyous character is seen in the designs of the furniture. There is no unnecessary ornamentation, form and function closely follow, all pieces are handmade, and the best American hardwood, such as maple, cherry, and oak, as well as birch and pine are used.

The influence of Shaker furniture is now being evaluated in distinctly modern terms, and there have been exhibitions of the work of single Shaker craftsmen such as Orren Haskins. This is remarkable because the Shaker tradition holds that focus on individuals leads to vanity and instead emphasizes community, and the idea that beautiful objects come from tradition and religion. The slogan goes 'Hands to work and hearts to god.'