How Furniture Has Changed Over Time


Furniture is an important element of interior design that holds the room’s desired aesthetic together. It adds color, shape and functionality to a room by providing seating, storage or decorative accents. Furniture can be made from a variety of materials, including wood, metal, glass, plastic, and other synthetics. It also can have a wide range of designs, from minimalist to elaborately ornamented.

In general, furniture has changed comparatively little since antiquity, although styles and techniques have varied greatly. Wood remains the most common material for furniture, and its versatility explains why it was used in ancient Greece and Rome and in medieval Europe. It is durable, ductile and can be shaped both by hand and with power tools. Wood can be carved and grained, and it is easily stained or painted. Its availability has given rise to a profusion of ornament, especially in carving and wrought iron, as well as in the form-follows-function philosophy of 19th-century mechanical furniture like pianos that fold or beds with trundle units.

The Arts and Crafts movement of the early 20th century influenced some of the most forward-looking furniture, which was made in England and Scandinavia. In particular, the furniture of Ambrose Heal and Gordon Russell, along with the work of Kaare Klint of Denmark and Alvar Aalto of Finland, combines a respect for historical forms with technological innovation. After World War II, molded plywood and fiberglass and the metal chairs of Charles Eames and Harry Bertoia marked a major change in furniture production. It was the beginning of a shift to mass-production that continues today.