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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Inspired Interiors: Arts and Crafts take center stage in 2016Indianapolis Star, February 5th
Think Frank Lloyd Wright, Stickley Furniture and Mission Oak. Here's another example. The Indianapolis Museum of Art is staging an exhibit of Gustave Baumann which runs through Feb. 14. Baumann was a woodworker and printmaker who arrived in Brown ...Read more
Something more: Furinture maker Gustav Stickley's renown career began in ...Auburn Citizen, January 29th
Rudd studied sculpture and photography at Syracuse University and said he became interested in Stickley when he and his wife found a Stickley mission oak settee when they looked for furniture shortly after getting married. "I fell in love with the...Read more
Classrooms get 21st century upgradeVisalia Times-Delta, January 22nd
Traditionally, a high school classroom consists of a white board, wooden desks or tables, a few cabinets and maybe some bookshelves. A Tulare Joint Union High School District pilot program is changing that. Literacy coaches from Tulare Union, Tulare...Read more
Visalia holding Dump on Us DayVisalia Times-Delta, December 3rd
Items that will be accepted include cell phones, dryers, washers, mattresses — with a limit of two mattresses per person — furniture, scrap metal, small appliances, up to four tires with their rims removed, printer toner cartridges and concrete from...Read more
New Dollar Tree, thrift store planned for VisaliaVisalia Times-Delta, October 27th
Benny Rodriguez, director of the Bethlehem Center, said that while people could carry in donations of clothing and other small items, furniture and other large goods would be picked up at people's homes or accepted at the charity's headquarters and...Read more
Fire Safety Tips: Blocked exitsHanford Sentinel, October 16th
When arranging furniture and other items, make sure that you're not blocking doors or windows with televisions, heavy dressers, tables, couches, even potted plants. Every room needs two ways out. Never nail or paint windows shut. Opening them could be ...Read more
Clay Cafe gets new digs, moves into Victorian-style homeVisalia Times-Delta, September 30th
Furniture, picture frames and curtains from the Victorian era can be seen throughout. “It's so exciting to be able to use all my Victorian stuff,” she said. Customers also have the option to paint in the secret garden or reserve a spot for a garden...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