June 14, 2022

Elegance and Style of Old Artistic Furniture

Artistic furniture is inextricably linked to the historical period in which it was made and the decorativeness or ornamentation in fashion at that time. Each piece of antique furniture was created in reference to the architecture and artistic style characteristic of a given era. These products were also directly related to the interior for which they were designed.

Large, chunky furniture fell out of favor in the 18th century as people began to desire more intimacy and privacy in their homes. They were replaced by small tables, soft chairs, and commodes in sophisticated shapes that complemented small lounges and boudoirs. As the modern era came to a close, homes evolved from being workplaces into cozy spaces where family members could spend time together in privacy. In the 18th century, people started demanding greater convenience and wanted the furniture to be first and foremost comfortable. Another important aspect was the possibility to transport the furniture, as at that time, people started to travel more freely and arrange the items in line with the needs of the residents-hence the demand for small tables and light chairs.

Although the history of furniture was marked by certain pan-European and global trends, each country developed its own recognizable style over the years. French furniture in the styles of Louis XIV, Louis XV, and Louis XVI was definitely the most popular and characteristic. At the beginning of the 19th century, the Biedermeier style enjoyed widespread favor in German-speaking countries. The style was a response to the demands of the increasingly wealthy bourgeoisie, which had a predilection for comfort and spending free time with their families. In the bourgeois salons, the honorable place was held by secretary desks - products simple in their design, containing numerous drawers, shelves, and lockers. The German and Austrian bourgeoisie, which were becoming increasingly wealthy due to the industry's steady growth, demanded that their furniture be primarily functional and well made. The designers had to give up sophisticated decorations and rich ornaments for convenience and practicality. Mahogany was the primary material used for creating furniture in this style. Nevertheless, local wood species like walnut, cherry, ash, maple, and birch were also frequently used. 

At the same time, chair backrests took extremely original shapes. They were typically upholstered in vibrant, floral, or striped fabrics and embellished with a small woodcarving motif.

At the turn of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Ébénistes became known for their unconventional creative inventions, designing an increasing number of novel and useful types of furniture. Folding tables-rectangular products with folding flaps on both sides-became popular at that time. They were used for reading, writing, and playing. 

As the popularity of social games grew, the designers started creating special tables with sliding tops for games like chess, cards, and dice. The sliding tops for chess games were decorated with colorful intarsias in the shape of a chessboard. The tops for dice games and cards were covered with fabric.

In the twentieth century, after a brief Art Nouveau renaissance, people once again favored more simple shapes. The art deco style, which dominated decorative arts in the 1920s and 1930s, favored straight and smooth, clean forms. The functionalism of the new furniture was one of its most significant characteristics. Opulent mansions started to disappear after the First World War and the economic changes it brought about. As more people moved into tiny rental apartments, small and practical furniture became increasingly in demand. It was fashionable to arrange the so-called "living spaces," which served as a living room, office, and dining room. 

Nonetheless, luxury furniture, which was supposed to suit the tastes of the pickiest customers, was still in demand on the market. Such furniture was created in Poland by the Jan Jojko Art Furniture Factory from Rybnik, which was praised in the "Codzienna Gazeta Handlowa" magazine in 1936 as follows,  "The company specializes in modern, artistic furniture, which, thanks to its very tasteful and solid look and excellent quality, enjoys high demand both in Silesia and in the vicinities." ("Codzienna Gazeta Handlowa", 16. June 1936, p. 6). The Jan Jojko Furniture Factory specialized in producing exclusive furniture sets veneered with wood of excellent quality. 

"Sztandar Polski i Gazeta Rybnicka", Rok XVII, nr. 1, 1 January 1936, p. 3