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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Recent News: Mission Style Furniture
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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
Local housing market “trending up”Visalia Times-Delta, July 27th
The local housing market appears to be on the mend. Current market conditions, low interest rates, builder incentives, and buyers' perspectives are pushing up the housing market, real estate broker Andrea Santos said. Currently, Visalia city officials...Read more
Column: Pondering Rousey vs. MayweatherFrederick News Post (subscription), July 24th
We have hit the mid-summer sports doldrums, a point when the Tour de France constitutes something to talk about even when the race leader is clean. So, since most of the actual sporting events can't retain our attention until heavily-muscled and padded ...Read more
Ivanhoe rider killed in southeast county crashVisalia Times-Delta, July 16th
An Ivanhoe motorcycle rider died from injuries he suffered in a crash west of Plainview Thursday morning. The 57-year-old man, whose name was not released pending family notification, suffered the fatal injuries in a crash at Avenue 192 and Road 192...Read more
Visalia house fire likely started by spontaneous combustionVisalia Times-Delta, July 13th
Price, who lives in his late mother's home, which is in a family trust, said he made a living selling old furniture, books dating as far back as the 1800s, fine china and collectables — "antiquey stuff" — mostly from the garage. He said he used...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
Serrano's Furniture expands, adds activity to local economyVisalia Times-Delta, June 8th
When Serrano's Furniture opened its Visalia location, it meant it was time for the regional chain to boost its warehousing capabilities, said Joel Serrano. Some say the store's opening, along with other furniture outlets, might also give an indication...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