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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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
Prep highlights of March 7 (non-basketball)Fresno Bee, March 7th
• Buchanan and Bullard both went unbeaten at the three-day Central California Baseball Showcase. Buchanan wrapped things up Saturday afternoon by defeating Pleasant Grove 11-7. The Bears scored five runs in the fourth inning, aided by Grant ...Read more
Prep wrestling: Champion Clovis puts on record-breaking show at state finalsFresno Bee, March 7th
Then it was Mejia's turn as the top-ranked Iowa commit survived two late shots from Mission Oak's No. 2 David Campbell for a 1-0 victory. Mejia, the 106-pound winner last season as a freshman, is one of three wrestlers who presently have an opportunity...Read more
Prep boys basketball: Hanford dominates Mission Oak for D-II titleFresno Bee, March 6th
Mission Oak High couldn't do it because Hanford wouldn't allow it. And it wasn't really that close at Selland Arena on Friday night: Bullpups 64-49 over the 29-1 and top-seeded Hawks for the Central Section Division II boys basketball championship...Read more
Prep boys basketball: Mission Oak takes down Roosevelt to reach D-II finalFresno Bee, March 4th
And it was that kind of ball movement that propelled top-seeded Mission Oak to a 25-point lead midway through the third quarter before then weathering a furious comeback by No. 4 Roosevelt for a 65-58 victory in the semifinals of the Central Section...Read more
Prep girls basketball playoffs: Edison stuns Garces in D-I semifinalFresno Bee, March 3rd
2 Mission Oak at 2 p.m. Saturday for the title after Tristen Myers contributed 20 points and 15 rebounds to the Hawks' 58-37 win against No. 6 Arvin to earn the first title-game berth in the six-year history of the Tulare school. Mission Oak, a...Read more
Asheville takes spotlight as Arts & Crafts capitalAsheville Citizen-Times, February 15th
At that first conference in 1988, there were 40 exhibitors of Art & Craft pottery, tiles and the signature Mission Oak furniture made by Stickley and other masters that provided the Grove Park Inn with its furnishings. There was only one contemporary...Read more
Authorities crack down on cardboard theft in CaliforniaVisalia Times-Delta, February 12th
In that case, 47-year-old Ramon Sucilla had been legitimately given the material by a local furniture store owner on the premise they'd split the recycling proceeds. Sucilla said he'd rather be holding down a warehouse job, but when work is scarce...Read more