At the turn of the century marks a wave of change. Although between 1800 and 1900 shows the biggest wave of change not only as a big as the whole world, but also as small as the home-front. Within just a hundred years sofa design shifted from being artistic to functional; especially with the influence of the industrial revolution.
“The earliest sofas apparently were made in Philadelphia, which fifty years before the Declaration of Independence.” However, our first look at sofa design that really represents American as a new nation beings with the American Federal style. Now that the country was no longer under the rule of England, the style was make better of the “luxurious and pompous ...view middle of the document...
All furniture at this point in time was still made by hand. It wasn’t until the Industrial Revolution beginning in the 1880s that we see a change in the production of sofas or furniture in general.
The Industrial Revolution had changed the United States by “becoming the world’s leading industrial power,” which unfortunately decreased the number of people working in a goods-producing industry. That being said, it also increased the amount of good being produced. Which brings about the next mass produced sofa style: Art Nouveau.
Art Nouveau sofa design was created in the early 1900s predominantly as an artistic piece, which raised some concerns towards the functionality. Its features include a bentwood fluidity that is also mimicked with the architecture of this time. “Art Nouveau’s greatest diversity appears in seating, where the individual imagination of the creator can find its fullest expression.” (See figure 2) Now because of the Industrial Revolution, this type of sofa was produced much more effectively.
However, it was during this same time of the early 1900s that American Arts and Crafts completely changed the way people looked at sofas thanks to designer Gustav Stickley. He is known as the “pinnacle of design achievement for the period.” Gustav wanted to revive the hand-made furniture quality while going away from over-produced ornate furniture. In his own words he states:
“Anybody who knows Craftsman Furniture has no difficulty in perceiving that the principles upon which it is based are honesty and simplicity. When I first began to make it, I did so because I felt that the badly-constructed, over-ornate, meaningless furniture that turned out in such quantities by the factories was not only bad in itself, but that is presence in the homes of the people was an influence that led directly away from the sound qualities which make an honest man and a good citizen.”