Definition of Furniture, Interior Design, and Decoration
Furniture, interior design, and decoration are populated trades and are the most related to each other in various ways; However, like everything in life, they have their origin and first stages of emergence and evolution; They appeared at a specific point in history that defines their characteristics and functions and finishes up at a current phase that sometimes differs too much from its roots.
Actually, furniture, interior design, and decoration have a long and varied history due to the multiple civilizations they passed through; It has been transformed and modified many times to reach their present state and position.
Furniture refers to objects and entities created and manufactured to make people live comfortably. Interior design and decoration indicate or guide methods to organize the furnishings functionally but also aesthetically. The most basic furniture types are tables, chairs, beds, cupboards, desks, and all other objects that are intended to support or achieve human activities.
Furniture is considered to be a kind of work-of-art that is highly functional and decorative at the same time and it can be made from several kinds of materials such as metal, plastic, or specifically wood. The interior design and decoration on the other side, are responsible for the process of positioning and placing those multiple furniture items properly and innovatively.
Furniture History | A Glance at the First Eras
It was evident, that houses and furniture existed since the early ages; In prehistoric times, especially in the Neolithic Period when the caveman was still learning to farm, the houses and their furniture (such as dressers, beds, etc.) were originally made of stones.
The stone-built Neolithic settlement of Skara Brae located in Scotland is live proof of that era, where it was found some evidence of the primal furniture utilized, which was made of stone. (Fig.1)
|Fig.1- Skara Brae from the entrance gate, Photo: eng.wikipedia.org|
In the archaeological site, a what-it-looked-like assortment of stone cupboards, beds, seats, and even dressers was excavated there (see Fig.2 below) and are believed to belong to this age, which was clear proof that furniture has been used since the beginning of time.
|Fig.2- Evidence of home furnishing in Skara Brae, Photo: eng.wikipedia.org|
History of Egyptian Furniture, Interior Design, and Décoration
Then came the Ancient Egyptian civilization, and its creative items which are related perhaps to the honor of creating the closest to today's modern furniture. (See Fig.3) Pieces were discovered and have been estimated by archeologists as dating from the 8th century BC.
But as we all know the social differences that dominated the old Egyptian community, the rich people resided in comfortable and luxurious houses with wooden furniture, while the poor stayed in mud houses with furniture of stone.
In fact, the oldest surviving pieces of furniture, and interior design and decoration layouts were from Egypt. Some were decorated with gold and others were very simple. Many of these pieces look like the furniture of today in shape and way of construction.
Greek-Roman Furniture, Interior Design, and Décoration History
Next on the list are the Romans and their ancestors the Greeks; Let's have a round-up of the most reputed furniture. Actually and for a reason unknown the furniture, interior design, and decoration layout were only found in paintings and pottery. They also have a considerable resemblance to the Egyptian old style but may differ in functionality.
For instance, stools called Kilsmos benefit now from a back to provide more comfort for its user. Jewels and ornaments have also existed on the borders of stools that reflected the wealthy state of the owner. The Greeks and Romans made a piece of quite similar-looking furniture.
The Greek civilization, in addition, created wooden furniture, but it was targetted on dressers and couches; Which they used as beds and for resting. Meanwhile, Roman furniture used various materials including bronze, marble, and precious metals, and yet, designs were more functional, practical, and complex. It was still a symbol of social status and considered a work of art.
|Fig.4- Example showing the usage of upholstery|
Italian-French Renaissance Furniture, Interior Design, and Décoration History
Later on, and after a period of recession, came the Italian and French Renaissance which featured a new furniture style with more engraving works, and paintings in their ornaments. The various embellishment made from stucco was more present in Italian than the French design.
For the first time, Upholstery was introduced to the industry where chair seats were executed with leather or fine textiles (see Fig.4 above for more clarification). Mattress holders' ropes are now the new feature of beds.
On the other side, French Renaissance pieces were characteristic of their less engraving, and usage of columnar legs, and were more delicate and soothing. English furniture had even less carving evidence, with oak wood as the material of choice.
- Good to note, that the labels adopted by the furniture styles were influenced by political powers. For example, when the political power shifted to France, the prominent styles were named after the kings; such as the style of Louis XVI, etc...
- Similarly, turning back to English furniture, styles were named after the Kings and Queens. We saw this in Queen Anne, William & Mary, or English Georgian (after King George) styles. However, during the mid-1700s the furniture styles were named after the designer's name, which was more logical and fair.
The main trend of the Renaissance age was when the Baroque furniture, interior design, and decoration matched the Baroque buildings (See an example of Baroque Buildings in Fig.5 below)
In the 17th century, the French Baroque style was still evolving with the reign of Louis XIV, where big changes in furniture design occurred; modifications were made by the usage of spiral legs, curved fronts, and ornament carvings. Chairs now have high backs instead of upholstery like it was previously in the Renaissance period. Tables, chairs, and wardrobes were decorated with inlays of metal, wood, and tortoiseshell.
|Fig.6- William and Mary style, Photo: pinterest.com|
In general, research on furniture styles, interior designs, and decoration over the centuries is quite interesting. Those that related to the Middle Ages were usually heavy and fully ornamented with engraved designs.
The 18th century witnessed the rise of William and Mary, Queen Anne, Chippendale, Hepplewhite, and Federal styles where most designs were named after their own designer as we mentioned earlier in this article. So, those are new furniture styles that appeared during this period.
The carpenter was raised to the artist level as furniture had more finished talents and sophisticated designs to achieve.
The 19th century was tagged by the Industrial Revolution and the beginning of the revival of numerous styles such as Gothic, Neo-classicism, Rococo, and others. (Fig.7) Furniture was made less expensive for the working class as wide production was now available for the public. The introduction of the Aesthetic movement, a European community that valued the doctrine of aestheticism about literature, was the main event that flagged this period; This movement supports the belief or the idea of taste and beauty above everything.
Furthermore, movements started to float to the front, calling for the return of Arts and Crafts because of the need for handcrafted furniture.
|Fig.7- Funiture (chair) evolution through the ages, Photo: pinterest.com|
By the first three-quarters of the twentieth century, the age of Modernism, Art Deco, and Pop Art came up to the face. This movement was a cross between traditional and modern tastes.
Then, eco-design furniture, as its name indicates, i.e. executed with environment-friendly materials, started to become popular and the demand for them grew year after year. This century had the most variety in creating styles and designs. Using various methods and more materials than ever before set this period apart from any other time. Practically an infinite number of styles were created.
Types of Furniture
For ease, furniture is divided into categories according to its functionality, or the usage they were designed and manufactured to provide. For instance, storage (cupboards), seating (chairs, sofas, etc.), surfaces (tables, desks, etc.), lying or sleeping (beds, recliners, etc.), entertainment (pianos, etc.), and others (lamps, garden furniture, etc.) Those are examples of category names followed by the corresponding fixture.
Similarly, interior design and decoration were set according to the architectural style and the traditional architecture adopted if any.
Finding the Right Style for You and Your Home
You are right to feel somehow disturbed when it comes to choosing the proper style for your home since there is an infinite number of furniture styles in the market today.
It goes without saying that the right style for you is the one that makes you feel comfortable at home after a long day of stress at the office. The relaxing act can be obtained by two majors: the physical and the visual relaxing effect.
So, how do you decide which is the right style for you? Here are some answers to those 5 questions that might help you out…
- Is your lifestyle more formal or casual?
- How much do you entertain?
- How many visitors do you get per day and where do you host them?
- How much do you intend to invest in renewing your furniture?
- Is your space wide or tiny? etc…
Actually, many more queries may enlighten your steps in choosing the right style for your furniture and setting your home interior design and decoration. For example, if you are a formal person who does not entertain a lot, then the traditional furniture styles should be your best choice; Taking into consideration the fact that traditional furniture includes more ornament details and more carving work which may contain handcraft painting as well, will increase its price dramatically.
|Fig.8- French Furniture (chairs) evolution through the ages, Photo: https://jeanmarcfray.com|
On the opposite, if your lifestyle is more relaxing and comfortable you might prefer casual over formal styles such as Country French, English Cottage, Shabby Chic, etc … If you are an organized person, then you might shift to the managed space, such as Art Deco and Mid-Century, that is making a come-back you should stop by and consider it.
Traditionalist but also like contemporary styles, you may be interested in the next style, which mixes a traditional element along with another contemporary component to produce a new style: The Transitional.
Not an accessory and heavy ornamental stuff lover? The Scandinavian style is what you are looking for because it minimalizes the usage of decorating items and multi-craving to bring you the simplest model ever. (See the illustration below for more clarification)
Fig.9- The Scandinavian Furniture Style makes it easy for simple design lovers, Photo: https://mindsparklemag.com
In the end, we will be working on the theory of a combination of two different styles in case you and your partner may have opposite styles in mind. This procedure is called an Eclectic style. Eclecticism is a nineteenth and twentieth-century architectural style in which a single piece of work includes a mixture of elements from previous historical styles to create something new and original.
Whatever the furniture style you choose for your space, and later the interior design and decoration layout is it traditional, modern, or else, the most important feeling is the synchronization it generates between all the components of the room and you, where everything works together in perfect harmony, … and because where there is harmony, there is peace and comfort.
Books Related Recommendation
For designers who need stylistic information regarding historic periods, this book is very well organized and thorough. For students, this book offers the possibility of owning a history text without purchasing a general text that makes history only a small part of the information.
A completely revised edition, covering every period and development to the present, the designers and makers, the woods and other materials, the architecture, and the decoration. 2,000 photographs. Glossary. Bibliography. Index. Completely renewed! Buy it here.
Surveys the history, style, and design of furniture from the history, style, and design of furniture from ancient times to the present, presented with more than 600 photographs and drawings. Check it here and read more.
Fabulous illustrations and history of furniture throughout history. A comprehensive historical survey of furniture of different eras from the major countries of Europe is profusely illustrated with pictures and photographs. Find it out here.