Mission-style furniture grew out the turn-of-the-century Arts and Crafts movement, which like Art Nouveau was a response to industrialization. During the Victorian Era, elaborate Rococo and Neoclassical furniture was churned out by factories. Artists, designers, scholars, and other thinkers of the day began to express disdain for both the frilly, ornate aesthetic of Victorian decor, as well as the low quality of machine-made items.
The lead thinkers of the Arts and Crafts movement, such as art critic John Ruskin and designer William Morris, both from England, called for a return to high-quality, hand-made furniture, crafted by artisans. They promoted a simpler, more natural, and more functional look, with clean lines and solid, heavy frames made of wood. They believed that furniture design should lack clutter and highlight the craftsmanship of the construction and the natural beauty of the materials.
In 1900, furniture designer Gustav Stickley, publisher of the influential magazine, “The Craftsman,” popularized this movement in the United States, launching his own Mission or Craftsman-style of furniture. Said to be based on the spartan furnishings of California’s Franciscan missions, the earthy, rectilinear style was characterized by thick lines of oak, with exposed mortise-and-tenon joints and little in the way of decorative carving.
The best examples of antique Mission-style furnishings, from chairs to tables to cabinets, often feature rows of narrow wooden spindles that create eye-pleasing parallel lines. The wood is varnished but never painted, and the upholstery is always of a natural, unembellished material such as dyed leather or canvas.
The great irony of Mission-style furniture is that even though the Arts and Crafts movement supposedly rejected mechanization, Stickley would used steam-powered or electric woodworking machines to get the wood ready for his pieces, which would then be hand-finished by his artisans. Eventually, the Mission style was mass-produced just like its predecessors had been, and low-quality, slipshod items were soon found everywhere.
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Going, going, goneGreensburg Daily News, August 6th
Living in one of Indy's historic neighborhoods has given us an appreciation for antiquity, especially furniture from the Victorian era. But as the evening progressed, it was fast becoming apparent that the majority of the others sitting at the auction...Read more
News in briefThe Daily News of Newburyport, July 28th
The Newburyport Council on Aging will hold an ice cream social and a hearing talk, “Overall Hearing Health and Wellness” by John Hastings, LHIS followed by hearing screenings on Friday, July 31, beginning at 1 p.m. at the Council on Aging. The...Read more
103-year-old Orioles follower to throw out first pitchFrederick News Post (subscription), July 10th
103-year-old Baltimore Orioles fan Cora Purcell is set to throw out the first pitch Saturday at Camden Yards. Here she sits in her Frederick home, holding her bat signed by Babe Ruth. Orioles Fan. Staff photo by Graham Cullen ...Read more
Sarah Cyrus Home features an eclectic mix of top-quality furnitureAtlanta Magazine, July 1st
If a custom sofa just isn't what the homeowner expected, it's the designer who gets stuck with the bill—and the sofa. That's just one way design pros end up with excess inventory, much of it top-quality goods. To help take it off their hands, Sarah...Read more
New USAMRIID building nearly completeFrederick News Post (subscription), July 1st
Once the HVAC and utilities have been installed, the corps will turn the building over to USAMRIID in sections to install furniture, information infrastructure and other needs. The construction of USAMRIID's new home was delayed after a fire burned...Read more
Pam's Rusty Treasures offers custom-made furnitureFrederick News Post (subscription), June 8th
A: I wanted to do this business because I love building furniture, painting, refinishing, etc. The business is unique because it's in memory of my late husband, Rusty Keith Garber. Rusty died [at age] 31, leaving me behind with three beautiful children...Read more
Creating a brighter, more inviting living roomWashington Post, June 3rd
Furniture: Soft modern end table ($67), Bang Bang sleeper sofa in cotton with memory foam mattress ($1,000), Albury end table in mission oak ($119), Collins end table ($71) and Metro collection ottoman and chair in crimson red ($330), all from ...Read more
To repair or not to repair rare furnitureArizona Daily Star, March 14th
The Toomey Gallery specializes in A&C furniture (Mission is a style under that umbrella), and also holds regular auctions. In a December 2014 sale, an unsigned Gustav Stickley bungalow library table brought $6,000. In September of the same year another...Read more