Furniture and Architecture

Throughout history, architecture and furniture have had strong stylistic and ideological links with one another. Where architecture is employed to enclose and define space, furniture has been present to fill the space and prescribe its use. In concurrent periods, furniture designs employ stylistic elements from architecture. Proportions, motifs, symbols and decorative elements are all used to connect furniture to corresponding architecture and give furnished spaces stylistic coherence and visual unity. Amongst others, the renowned architect and furniture designer Robert Adam (1728-1792) was well known for his complete schemes in which the architecture, interiors and furnishings of a building followed the same style to create a harmonious whole.


Regency Mahogany cabinet in the Neo-Classical taste


Not all furniture designers and makers were also architects. Those who worked solely on furniture often used structural elements from architecture in their designs to link them to current architectural movements. The Regency mahogany cabinet pictured above has clear echoes to Neo-Classical architecture in the pilasters framing the doors and curved surfaces of the piece.


Set of 17th Century Yewwood Columns


Equally, the set of Barley Twist or Solomonic columns, above, has links to structural and sculptural features of Baroque architecture. Most notably, examples of such columns can be seen supporting Bernini's Baldacchino in St. Peter's Basilica pictured below.

Baldacchino, St Perter's Basilica


Columns and structural elements are not the only details inspired by architecture used in furniture design. The detailing on the Adam period mahogany console table, below, is heavily reminiscent of the triglyphs and metopes which often decorate the friezes of Georgian buildings.


Adam period mahogany console table

These are just a few examples of the ways in which the architecture, design and the decorative arts intersect and influence one another. All of the pieces mentionned in this article are available to view in our showroom on Kensington Church Street (apart from the Baldachinno, which is in Rome!).


February 23, 2019 — Peter Alexander