New to furniture collection
I am deeply curious about furniture, and I want to learn more about furniture design.
I’d really like to do a general survey of furniture design, get a sense of the various periods/movements/styles. And then see what period or style interests and appeals to me the most.
Can you recommend some good resources for that? If there is no single resource, I’d be glad to read any number that would give a good overview!
Also - once I do have a period/style/design in my mind, which I love, can you recommend a process/way to find good resources (books, articles, etc.) on that?
Lastly - are there any serious furniture collectors on the forum? It would be great to connect - I would be very interested to know about how you started collecting furniture, the style and period of your interest, any interesting pieces you have collected, etc.
@Harlequin - Your questions are very broad. I think, Browkin is right. For a general overview on the history of furniture you should go to amazon or a book store near you, there should be plenty of material. This forum is pretty much dedicated to midcentury furniture, so if you have special questions there, there's a good chance you might get an answer. But if you find out that you like ornamentation, a bit of silver and gold here and there or maybe the whole Ikea range from back to front, this probably not the place where you get the answers you are looking for.
As far as collecting is concerned - well, that's an odd concept in itself. For furniture you obviously need space, an only very few people own a cottage where they can place a collection of, say, furniture from the 19th century. In my case it wouldn't really make sense to own much more than two easy chairs, six to eight dining chairs, one or two tables, a sofa and a dresser. I spent a lot of time thinking about which chairs I want to own. But is this a collection? And if so - how is it different from other peoples furnishings? So I'm not sure what a "serious furniture collector" is. If you really think about somebody who collects furniture, I can only advise you to contact the Vitra design museum or Prof. Noritsugu Oda. He definitely is a collector, probably the only one I know of.
"People buy a chair, and they don't really care who designed it." (Arne Jacobsen)
I would begin with Cara Greenberg's book titled "Mid-century Modern: Furniture of the 1950's", she is credited for coining that term in the mid 1980s (when the 1950s became retro from kitsch, to fashion, to furniture and 1950s pop culture) when the book came out. I don't know if having an eye for design can be learned or thought, it is either you are born with it or not (but I could be wrong). Keep your eyes wide open, good design is not just about furniture, there are good design just about everywhere/everything from architecture, fashion, graphics, industrial design etc. I'm old school so I would check books in the public libraries or museums (in your area) first that deals with good design.
My earliest exposure to Arne Jacobsen was in the late 1980s when I spotted an unmarked/unbranded unused faucet from a garage sale for $2 and the design addiction just took off from there.
I agree Herringbone, I think 'pure' collectionism rarely exists when talking about furniture. Oda is probably the only example I can think of. I know of people who own storage containers/warehouses of items here in the UK, and they love and covet the items as collectors would. Is the distinction between stockist and curator really important? I genuinely don't know, I suspect if you asked them it probably wouldn't be important.
But there's a lot to unpack there that this probably isn't the thread for, though it's taking quite a lot of self restraint not to start unpacking it!
So Harlequin, I will instead agree that if you've managed to find your way here that is what is most important. My learning and knowledge from this forum alone (though in its previous iteration) has been critical in helping me develop my taste, knowledge and appreciation of furniture design history.
I actually only shared this forum with a close friend who is in the same boat as you, very recently. They asked the same question. I also shared this link, which in terms of books and resources is quite helpful. My partner has it as an evergreen Christmas gift list:
This gentleman is well known in the UK design scene for his repairs on Eames 670/671s. But if you have a lounge chair that the shocks have gone on, or any Eames piece, he's the guy you go to if you want it done properly. Regardless the selection in that link covers a lot of aspects of design, nations and movements within the 20th century. Possibly not much before that, but what comes before is generally not a subject on this forum. I can confess quite a accomplished level of ignorance in regards to anything before the 1900s.
To sum up: being here, being engaged and actively searching for pieces (even ones you can't afford) is the most valuable thing, it really does come down to that I think. There's no single library of books to fill in all the gaps you'd like filled in. Recognising shapes, ingesting design nomenclature and developing a vocabulary come with exposure.