ffurniture - Movable or stationery (sometimes "built-in"), and often larger articles that make a room or other place fit for living or working. Examples include tables, chairs, desks, shelving units, chests of drawers, and beds.

Furniture is designed for two principal qualities: aesthetic and functional. It must provide comfort at a human scale, while employing materials (including wood, metals, textiles [upholstery], plastics, etc.) with pleasing uses of the elements and principles of design. Furniture is typically expected to have significant strength (structure) and durability.

Styles of furniture have often paralleled those of other categories of art and design, but some stand apart from styles found in the other arts. Some furniture styles include Renaissance, Baroque, Louis XIV, Louis XV, Louis XVI, empire, Biedermeier, Arts and Crafts Movement, Art Nouveau, Art Deco, and modern. Styles of furniture are also characterized as being of the various nations.

There is a theory that many furniture designs evolved from that of the chest (box).



Examples of furniture:


see thumbnail to leftEgypt, Chair of Renyseneb, c. 1450 BCE, mid-Dynasty 18, New Kingdom, ebony, ivory, height 35 inches (86.2 cm), Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY. See Egyptian art.




see thumbnail to rightEgypt, c. 1400-1300 BCE, 18th Dynasty, Chair, wood, inlaid with ivory (or bone); the leather strips are modern, 91 x 47.5 x 59 cm, Louvre. Note similarities to the previous example.



see thumbnail to leftAssyria, Throne with Inscription, 1243-1207 BCE, alabaster, width 57 cm, Near-Eastern Museum, Berlin.






see thumbnail to rightFrance, Dresser, second half of the 15th century, oak, carved, painted and gilt, copper, iron, 266 x 137 x 53.5 cm, Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia.



Italy, Rome, Chest (Cassone), second half of the 16th century, walnut, carved and gilt, 186 x 68 x 57 cm, Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia. During the Renaissance a special place was occupied in Italian households by cassone chests in which brides' dowries were stored. They were usually made in pairs to stand next to each other in a room. See Renaissance.



Italy, third quarter of the 16th century, Pair of Cassoni with Reliefs of Apollo, carved walnut, height 28 1/8 inches (71.4 cm), width 66 3/4 inches (169.5 cm), diameter 22 3/8 inches (56.9 cm), Frick Collection, NY.




see thumbnail to rightFrance, 1617, Armoire, walnut, 2.55 x 1.78 x .75 m, Louvre.



see thumbnail to leftAmerica, Eastern Massachusetts, Armchair or "great chair", 1640-1680, ash, 44 3/4 x 23 1/2 x 15 3/4 inches (113.7 x 59.7 x 40.0 cm), Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY.




see thumbnail to rightFrance, c. 1645, Cabinet, Paris, oak and poplar, ebony veneering, blackened fruit-tree wood, 1.85 x 1.58 x .56 m, Louvre.



see thumbnail to leftWilliam Searle (American, 1634-1667, Ipswich, Massachusetts) and/or Thomas Dennis (American, 1638-1706), Chest, 1660-1680, red oak, white oak, 29 3/4 x 49 1/8 x 21 3/8 inches (75.6 x 124.8 x 54.3 cm), Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY.



André-Charles Boulle (French, 1642-1732) (workshop of), Kneehole desk with tendril marquetry of tortoiseshell and brass, c.1700, carcass of oak and fir, drawers of walnut and oak; veneered with panels of brass inlaid with tortoiseshell marquetry and bordered by ebony; mounts of gilt bronze; top covered with black leather, height 30 3/4 inches (78.1 cm), width 57 7/8 inches (147 cm), diameter 29 1/8 inches (74 cm), Frick Collection, NY. See Baroque.




see thumbnail to rightAndré-Charles Boulle, Wardrobe (alternatively known as an Armoire), Paris, around 1700, made of oak and pine, with ebony, tortoiseshell, inlaid (marquetry) with brass and tin veneering, pewter, horn, and gilded bronze (ormolu), 102 x 58 x 25 inches (260 x 148 x 64 cm), Louvre.


see thumbnail to leftFrance, beginning of the 18th century, Table with Nine Feet, gilded oak, marble, 0.88 x 1.85 x .75 m, Louvre.





see thumbnail to rightAttributed to Nicolas Foliot, Fauteuil, mid-18th century, France, wood, carved and gilt, upholstered in red velvet, silver embroidery, 113 x 77 x 90 cm, Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia. Made for Louis XV's daughter, the Princess of Parma, for her Italian palace, this chair retains the original upholstery, which includes embroidery on the back and seat.



see thumbnail to leftCaleb Gardner (American, Newport, RI), Easy Chair, 1758, walnut, maple, 46 3/8 x 32 3/8 x 25 7/8 inches (117.8 x 82.2 x 65.7 cm), Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY.



see thumbnail to rightJacques Dubois (French, c. 1693-1763), Desk from the Château du Raincy, Paris, mid-18th century, oak, pine and fruit-tree wood, black lacquer, gilt bronze, leather, 0.82 x 1.86 x 1 m, Louvre.



see thumbnail to leftJean-François Leleu (French, 1729-1807), Commode Belonging to the Prince de Condé, Paris, 1772, oak, purple-wood panelling, marquetry, gilt bronze, red-veined marble, 0.88 x 1.17 m, Louvre.




see thumbnail to leftGeorges Jacob (French, 1739-1814), Armchair from the Turkish Room of the Comic d'Artois at the Temple, Paris, 1777, gilt walnut, 0.94 x 0.70 m, Louvre.





see thumbnail to rightAdam Weisweiler (French, 1744-1784), Writing Table Belonging to Queen Marie-Antoinette, Paris, 1784, oak, ebony veneering, lacquer, mother-of-pearl, steel, gilt bronze, 0.82 x 0.47 m, Louvre.


see thumbnail to leftDuncan Phyfe (American, 1768-1854, New York, NY), Sofa, 1810-1820, mahogany, tulip poplar, cane, gilt brass, 34 x 84 3/4 x 23 3/4 inches (86.4 x 215.3 x 60.3 cm), Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY.




see thumbnail to rightFrançois-Honoré-Georges Jacob-Desmalter (French, 1770-1841), Jewel Cabinet Belonging to the Empress Josephine, Paris, 1809, oak, yew and purple-wood veneering, mother-of-pearl, gilt bronze, 2.75 x 2.00 m, Louvre.



see thumbnail to leftGeorge Jakob Hunzinger (American, 1835-1898, New York, NY), Settee, c. 1876-1885, ebonized cherry, fabric-covered steel mesh, 39 5/8 x 67 3/8 x 22 5/8 inches (100.6 x 171.1 x 57.5 cm), Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY.




see thumbnail to rightChristian Herter, designer (American, born Germany, 1840-1883, Herter Brothers, maker, New York, active c. 1860 - c. 1905, Side Chair, c. 1882, gilded maple, mother-of-pearl inlay, and replacement embroidered silk upholstery, Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, PA. See wood.



see thumbnail to leftHerter Brothers, Library table, 1882, rosewood, brass, mother-of-pearl, 31 1/4 x 60 x 35 3/4 inches (79.4 x 152.4 x 90.8 cm), Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY.




see thumbnail to rightCarlo Bugatti (Italian, 1855 or 56-1940), Cobra Chair, 1902, vellum, wood, copper, crayon, and paint, Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, PA.



see thumbnail to leftCarlo Bugatti, Bugatti Table: wood (mahogany?), cast and gilded metal mounts, inlays of ivory or bone, metal, and mother-of-pearl, height 71.1 cm, c. 1910, Tea and Coffee Service: Carlo Bugatti designer, executed by A.A. Hebrard, silver and ivory, c. 1907, Cleveland Museum of Art.



see thumbnail to rightJosef Hoffmann (Austrian, 1870-1956), designer, at the studio of Wiener Werkstätte, for J. & J. Kohn, Austrian manufacturer, Sitzmaschine Chair with Adjustable Back, c. 1905, bent beechwood and sycamore panels, 43 1/2 x 28 1/4 x 32 inches (110.5 x 71.8 x 81.3 cm), Museum of Modern Art, NY. "Sitzmashine" is literally "machine for sitting," an apparent bow to the mechanical aspects of the modernism. Hoffmann and the Wiener Werkstätte championed the aesthetic of the Vienna Secession.



see thumbnail to leftCharles Rennie Mackintosh (Scottish, 1868-1928), designer, Washstand, 1904, oak, ceramic tile, leaded colored glass and mirror glass, 63 1/4 x 51 1/4 x 20 3/8 inches (160.7 x 130.2 x 51.8 cm), Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY. See Arts and Crafts Movement and Scottish art.



see thumbnail to rightCharles Rennie Mackintosh, Hill House Chair, 1904, black lacquered wood with upholstered seat, 55 x 16 x 14 1/4 inches.


see thumbnail to leftJosef Hoffmann (Austrian, 1870-1956) and Wiener Werkstätte, Table, 1903-1904, solid oak wood and oak wood veneer, black satin, white paint, polished boxwood inlay, white metal, 30 x 24 3/4 x 24 3/4 inches, Minneapolis Institute of Arts.



Walter Gropius (German, 1883-1969). See Bauhaus.



see thumbnail to rightGerrit T. Rietveld (Dutch, 1884-1964), Red-Blue Chair, c. 1923, hardwood lacquered in blue, red, and yellow. Although this chair's design is consistent with the aesthetic of De Stijl, it was presented at a Bauhaus exhibition in 1923.



see thumbnail to leftGerrit Rietveld, Zig Zag Chair, 1934, hardwood.



see thumbnail to rightLudwig Mies van der Rohe (German-American, 1886-1969), designer, "MR" Armchair, 1927, chrome-plated steel and painted caning, 31 1/2 x 22 x 37 inches (80 x 55.9 x 94 cm), Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY. This was developed from a 1924 design for a cantilevered chair by Mart Stam. It was introduced by Mies van der Rohe at the 1927 Stuttgart exhibition and has remained in production ever since. Mies van der Rohe was the last director of the Bauhaus design school in Dessau, from 1930 until its closing in 1932.




see thumbnail to leftLudwig Mies van der Rohe, Barcelona Chair, 1929, chrome-plated steel and black leather.


see thumbnail to rightAlvar Aalto (Finnish, 1898-1976), Armchair (Chair 31), c. 1930, birch-faced plywood, laminated birch, 26 15/16 x 24 1/16 x 30 1/2 inches, Minneapolis Institute of Arts.



see thumbnail to leftMarcel Breuer (German, 1902-1981), Wassily Chair, 1925, chrome-plated steel and black leather.




see thumbnail to rightAntonio Bonet, Juan Kurchan and Jorge Ferrari Hardoy, manufactured by Artek-Pascoe, Inc., New York, NY, B.K.F. Chair, 1938, painted wrought-iron rod and leather, 34 3/8 x 32 3/4 x 29 3/4 inches (87.3 x 83.2 x 75.6 cm).



see thumbnail to rightIsamu Noguchi (American, 1904-1988), Coffee Table, 1954, base: solid black lacquered ash; top: 15 mm glass; entire: 45 x 128 x 92 cm.




see thumbnail to leftCharles Eames (American, 1907-1978), Shell Chair, 1946, polyester, metal frame, Kunstgewerbemuseum, Berlin. Charles and his wife Ray were pioneers in the use of molded plywood in designing chairs whose back and seat pieces were shaped to the contours of the human body.



see thumbnail to rightCharles Eames and Ray Eames, manufactured by Herman Miller Furniture Co., Zeeland, MI, Lounge Chair and Ottoman, 1956, molded rosewood, plywood, leather, cast aluminum, rubber shock mounts, and stainless steel glides, chair: 33 x 33 3/4 x 33 inches (83.8 x 85.7 x 83.8 cm), ottoman: 16 x 26 x 21 inches (40.6 x 66 x 53.3 cm), Museum of Modern Art, NY.



Eero Saarinen (Finnish-American, 1910-1961)



Ettore Sottsass (Italian, 1917-)



see thumbnail to leftJoe Colombo (Italian, 1930-1971), designer; manufactured by Flexform, Italy, Tube Chair of Nesting and Combinable Elements, 1955, PVC plastic tubes, chrome plated steel rod, natural rubber and polyurethane foam with synthetic textile show cover, nested: 25 1/2 x 19 3/8 inches (64.8 x 49.2 cm) diameter, Museum of Modern Art, NY.




see thumbnail to rightAchille Castiglioni and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni, manufactured by Zanotta S.p.A., Italy, Mezzadro Seat, 1957, tractor seat, steel, and beech, 20 1/4 x 19 1/2 x 20 1/4 inches (51.4 x 49.5 x 51.4 cm), Museum of Modern Art, NY.



see thumbnail to leftVerner Panton (German, 1926-1998), manufactured by Vitra-Fehlbaum GmbH, Weil-am-Rhein, Germany, Panton Stacking Side Chair, 1959-60, rigid polyurethane foam with lacquer finish, 32 5/8 x 19 1/4 x 23 1/2 inches (82.9 x 48.9 x 59.7 cm), Museum of Modern Art, NY. See plastic.



see thumbnail to rightPaolo Lomazzi, Donato D'Urbino and Jonathan De Pas, manufactured by Zanotta S.p.A., Italy, Blow Inflatable Armchair, 1967, polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic, inflated: 33 x 47 1/8 x 40 1/4 inches (83.8 x 119.7 x 102.9 cm), Museum of Modern Art, NY.  See inflatable.



see thumbnail to leftPaolo Lomazzi, Donato D'Urbino and Jonathan De Pas, manufactured by Poltronova, Italy, Joe Sofa, 1968, polyurethane foam and leather, 33 1/2 x 65 1/4 x 41 3/4 inches (85.1 x 165.7 x 106 cm), Museum of Modern Art, NY.




see thumbnail to rightFrank O. Gehry (American, born Canada, 1929-), designer, Easy Edges, c. 1972, side chair, corrugated cardboard, 33 x 14 1/2 x 23 inches, Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

see thumbnail to leftA detail of this chair's back reveals the textural  qualities produced by the laminated sheets of corrugated cardboard of which Easy Edges is constructed. See architect.



see thumbnail to rightFrank O. Gehry, manufacturer: New City Editions, USA, Bubbles Chaise Longue, 1987, corrugated cardboard with fire-retardant coating, 35 inches x 28 1/2 inches x 6 feet 1 inches (88.9 x 72.4 x 185.4 cm), Museum of Modern Art, NY.




see thumbnail to leftFrank O. Gehry, Knoll International, Inc., Cross Check armchair, 1989, maple laminate, Columbia Museum of Art, SC.



see thumbnail to rightAllen Jones (English, 1937-), Chair, 1969, painted plastic and mixed media, 77.5 x 57.1 x 99.1 cm, Tate Gallery, London.




see thumbnail to leftTom Dixon (contemporary), manufactured by Cappellini S.p.A., Arosio, Italy, S Chair, 1991, rush and steel, 40 3/8 x 19 1/4 x 22 7/8 inches (102.6 x 48.9 x 58.1 cm), Museum of Modern Art, NY.




see thumbnail to rightDonald T. Chadwick and William Stumpf (Americans, contemporary), manufactured by Herman Miller, Inc., Zeeland, MI, Aeron Office Chair, 1992, structure: glass-reinforced polyester and die-cast aluminum; pellicle: Hytrel polymer, polyester, and Lycra; dimensions range from a minimum height of 37 1/4 inches (94.6 cm) to a max height of 43 inches (109.2 cm) x 28 1/2 x 28 1/2 inches (72.4 x 72.4 cm), Museum of Modern Art, NY.



see thumbnail to leftTokujin Yoshioka (Japanese, contemporary), manufactured by Tokujin Yoshioka, Honey-Pop Armchair, 2000, paper, .1 unfolded: 31 1/4 x 32 x 32 inches (79.4 x 81.3 x 81.3 cm) .2 folded: 31 1/4 x 36 1/2 x 3/4 inches (79.4 x 92.7 x 1.9 cm), Museum of Modern Art, NY.




see thumbnail to rightTodd Falkowsky (Canadian?, contemporary product designer), Toy Chair, 2003, mixed media, including many plush dolls. This design by Falkowsky was made at the same time that 21 chairs of various shapes, sizes, materials, and purposes were designed and produced by Kathleen Schratz’s grade three students at Ryerson Community Public School in Toronto, Canada. Schratz partnered with Todd Falkowsky to create a design awareness program that enabled the childhood ability to engage in creative design activities. Look at their page about the project.





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Also see applied arts, architecture, basketry, design, drapery, easel, egg-and-dart, Index of American Design, mantel, raffia, screen, stain, vernacular, and vitrine.






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