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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Different, new, tried 'n trueQuad City Times, February 1st
Stickley is a New York-based company named after the Stickley brothers, who made high-quality wood furniture in Mission Oak designs in the early 1900s. Knilans' is celebrating its 60th year of business this year. "We have a long history of being a ...Read more
Go Knoxville's fun things to doKnoxville News Sentinel, January 16th
Stickley Furniture, of Manlius, N.Y., was founded in the early 1900s by Gustav Stickley and his brothers and is best known for their classic Mission oak designs and outstanding craftsmanship. Danial will share a brief history of the Arts & Crafts...Read more
A Passion for Design: Keeping up with Interior Design Color TrendsPenBayPilot.com, January 15th
Las Cruces represents today's interpretation of authentic craftsman furniture with mortise and tenon joinery and vintage mission oak, hearkening back to the days of Gustav Stickley. Las Cruces is comprised of ash solids with mission oak veneers in a...Read more
A Little Quiet TimeVisalia Times-Delta, December 29th
We were to be there only a few months, so we didn't bring our furniture. The cot the children shared sagged badly in the middle, and their feet overlapped a bit. Joy had a pillow at one end of the cot and Mark at the other, and I sat on the edge of the...Read more
The Lookout: Amesbury girl stars in 'Velveteen Rabbit'The Daily News of Newburyport, December 4th
Bill Gette/Courtesy photoThis image of a volcanic crater on Heimaey Island, Iceland, is one of many that will be shared during a slide program and lecture at the Joppa Flats Education Center on Wednesday...Read more
Create a peaceful nook with right fabric, colorsChicago 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
Alan Nathanson's Midtown HomeMemphis 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
TOMS-PRICE HOME FURNISHINGS IS LARGEST STICKLEY DEALER IN THE ...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