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

Source: Google News

Create a peaceful nook with right fabric, colors
Chicago Daily Herald, October 5th

Throughout this month, Toms-Price is displaying a copy of the chair that Stickley, known from early in the 20th century for its simply styled Mission oak furniture, designed when the world's most famous Buddhist leader visited Colgate University in New...Read more

Maine Antique Digest, September 16th

TERMS: Proceeds to benefit the Greenacres Foundation. All sells “as is” to the highest bidders. Two auction rings on both days. Cash or check payment w/ current government-issued photo ID. Check qualified through Equifax (1% fee). Security enforced...Read more

Alan Nathanson's Midtown Home
Memphis Magazine, August 4th

Founded near Syracuse, New York, in 1900, the L. & J.G. Stickley Furniture Company is very much alive and well. It was and still is famed for its mission oak designs (known also as Arts and Craft style or American Craftsman), its use of high-quality...Read more

Stickley dealers honor company's owners
Furniture Today, July 25th

“The sales of Mission oak by Stickley dealers over this time period have exceeded $1 billion and the collection must be among the best-selling and certainly longest-lasting of all high-end furniture collections in history,” Price said. In other...Read more

Chicago Tribune, July 8th

Since the reissue of the historic Mission Oak and Cherry Collection in 1989, Stickley Furniture has been Toms-Price's largest vendor. Today, Stickley Furniture is likely the most popular and best selling high-end furniture brand in metropolitan Chicago...Read more

Estate Sale Roundup: June 12-15: If you don't have a truck, shop small and ...
Austin Chronicle, June 12th

Vintage auto garage sign: “Friendly Auto Service- Gross Auto Supply” ($350); vintage vinyl records, limestone slab dining and coffee tables; brown leather three-piece sectional sofa; vintage Nesbitt's clock; more than 300 Holstein cow items; wooden...Read more

Retail Success Story: Toms Price
Furniture World Magazine (press release), March 17th

There, studying economics, he encountered Edwin Toms, a friend and future partner, Toms' roots a Midwestern family farm. They became room-mates. Both young men had summer jobs at a local furniture store, “Ed” as office manager and Edwin in sales...Read more

Close to home: Clock shopping, building terrariums and more
Minneapolis Star Tribune, March 8th

It's been more than a century since Gustav Stickley introduced his simple, solidly constructed Mission oak designs that are still popular today. A Stickley historian and restoration expert will offer an inside look at one of America's legendary...Read more