Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Shaker way

An old image of a Shaker village
The Shakers or the United Society of Believers in Christ's Second Appearing are a religious sect found today in the United States of America and widely known for being the forerunners of gender equality as also their cultural contributions especially in the field of music and furniture. Their unique culture and dedication to hard work and perfection is legendary and has resulted in a unique range of architecture, furniture and handicraft styles.
Shaker Weaver's Chair

And their fame is well-deserved as they made their furniture with care believing that doing something well was in itself “an act of prayer.” You can imagine then what exquisiteness was the result of such dedication to excellence. Until the 19th century they rarely made anything with an elaborate or complicated design. Everything was crafted with a specific purpose and only for an intended use, form followed function rather than the other way round. Most of their furniture was crafted out of pine and other cheap wood and hence was light in colour as well as weight. In fact, the exquisite simplicity of Shaker furniture is said to be the basic inspiration behind a lot of modern furniture.

Even when in the post 19th century era Victorian influence was noticed in Shaker furnishings its basic character remained simple with clean lines and an inimitable elegance. As the late 19th century saw the dwindling of Shaker colonies experts and collectors recognized the need to protect their unique heritage in furniture building. Thanks to this early vigilance several pieces of Shaker craft have survived such as the Shaker cabinets, tables, chairs, and rocking chairs etc which have continued to inspire furniture makers and designers across the world even today. The interesting thing about Shaker furniture is that it is maintained that if you closely examine the furniture you wouldn’t be able to find a single nail anywhere in it!

Of course, apart from its very obvious influence on modern furniture-making Shaker furniture was also a symbol of their honesty, the reason that their products were considered amongst the best. You could always be assured of having paid for true quality, and nothing quite matches that in terms of worth.


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