Shakers furniture has its own distinctive style, they are simple and functional, and for decades have had a great influence on interior decoration.
These home furnishings were developed by the United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing (United Society of Believers in the Second Appearance of Christ), more commonly known as Shakers.
The Shakers was a Christian restoration sect founded around 1747 in England, and then organized in the United States in the 1780s.
The religious beliefs of the sect are based on strong guiding principles, such as simplicity, usefulness and honesty; and precisely simplicity and utility are reflected in its minimalist design furniture.
The design of Shakers furniture.
While they are simple furniture, they are very well thought out, and above all clearly focused on functionality.
Comfort was not one of its objectives, and that is why chairs, rocking chairs and seats in general with this style are not usually very comfortable.
Shakers furniture dispense with any superfluous element, such as metal handles or decorative ornaments, because their developers considered them too proud and pretentious.
The construction of Shakers furniture.
Focused on minimalist designs, without pretending it because the concept did not exist at that time, they developed creative solutions to build their furniture.
The dressers for the bedrooms and the kitchen furniture designed them with asymmetrical drawers, and to maximize their resources they used the concept of multipurpose furniture.
The furniture was made of maple, cherry or pine wood, and they were usually dyed or painted with one of the colors dictated by the religious sect (blue, red, yellow or green).
The marketing of furniture.
The religious community was largely self-sufficient, and in their attempt to separate themselves from the outside world, members grew their own food, built their own buildings, and made their own tools and furniture for the home.
However, all that changed from the 1860s, when an open business for the New Lebanon Shaker community in New York began to market them.
The business started selling stairs and chairs, and the seats of minimalist design were easy to produce, having great acceptance among customers.
Originally built and used furniture is displayed in the Shaker Retiring Room of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, an exhibition that originated in the 1818 Family First House of North Family Shakers.
The furniture, acquired in the 1970s, and Shaker textiles are considered among the best collections in the world.
Shakers furniture today.
Many examples of Shaker furniture survive and are preserved today, including the popular Shakers tables, chairs, cabinets and rocking chairs (manufactured in various sizes).
In the home furniture design and construction sector, it is quite common to hear that a closet has “Shakers doors”, known for their flat panels with rail frames.
The underlying principles of Shaker design have inspired some of the best modern furniture designers.
Chairs with a Shaker-type backrest, for example, profoundly influenced the work of a whole generation of post-war Danish designers.
Many of the furniture for the home that we can find nowadays in the stores, were built based on the original designs of the Shakers.
From kitchen cabinets and comfortable bedrooms, to the famous Shaker rocking chairs, they are furniture that can be found in all parts of the world.
The Shaker furniture collections are preserved by many art and history museums in the United States and England, as well as in numerous private collections.
Krogh, Frank (1994). The Thesis of Comfort. Reno, Nevada: Penguin.
Andrews, Edward Deming and Faith Andrews (1999). Masterpieces of Shaker Furniture. Courier Dover Publications.
Becksvoort, Christian (2000). The Shaker Legacy: Perspectives on an Enduring Furniture Style. Taunton Press.
Paterwic, Stephen J. (2008) Historical Dictionary of the Shakers. Scarecrow Press.