History of Furniture Design

Since the dawn of time, furniture design has been a component of the human experience. In paintings, furniture has been discovered in Egyptian Pyramids and Ghiordes graves dating back to the Neolithic Period. Monuments found at Pompeii, sculptures, and examples have also been uncovered in Egyptian Pyramids and found in tombs dating back to the Neolithic Period (modern-day Turkey). These notes will chart the major achievements, innovations, styles, and materials in furniture design, stressing the distinguishing characteristics of each time, the materials used and displaying photos of some of the most important pieces of furniture ever made. The furniture design timeline below highlights just a few of the various periods of furniture design history and provides a general overview of the furniture design chronology. Select a period of furniture design from the menu below to learn more about it.

Furniture from the Neolithic Period:

A variety of stone furniture was discovered at Skara Brae, Orkney, at a site dating from 3100-2500 BC. Because the wood was scarce in Orkney, the people of Skara Brae were obliged to construct with stone, a readily available resource that could be transformed into household items. Each home was furnished with a wide range of stone furniture, including cabinets, dressers, and beds, as well as shelves and stone benches. The stone dresser was regarded as the most significant since it symbolically faced each house’s entryway and was the first object viewed when entering.

Furniture from Ancient Egypt:

Since the third millennium B.C., Egypt’s hyperarid climatic conditions have been ideal for preserving organic material. Ancient Egyptian furniture has been unearthed at numerous locations thanks to similar circumstances, including 3rd millennium B.C. beds uncovered at Tarkhan, a 2550 BC golden bed and chairs from Queen Hetepheres’ tomb, and chests, beds, and chairs from Thebes. The furniture exposed had two extremes: exquisite gold gilt elegant furniture found in Pharaohs’ tombs and basic chairs, tables, and baskets used by regular Egyptians.

Furniture from Ancient Greece:

The iconic klismos chair, which dates back to the 2nd millennium B.C., is an example of ancient Greek furniture design. The furniture designs have been preserved not just by existing items but also by representations shown in Greek vases. Excavations at Herculaneum and Pompeii in 1738 and 1748 revealed excellently preserved Roman furniture. The furniture was kept in the ashes of Mount Vesuvius’ eruption from 79 A.D. until its excavation in the eighteenth century. The ancient Egyptians’ table, which had a hard, rectangular, and unattractive form, affected this early furniture. Once the Greeks created their style in the 4th and 5th centuries, the table became less square and stiff and more curved and flowing.

Furniture from the Middle Ages:

The furniture styles of the medieval period reflect the stark and often rustic nature. The furniture of the Middle Ages had a highly distinctive style. Ornate wood carvings on the borders of chairs and canopy beds, gaudy structural layouts, and primarily grey, beige, or black colors are among its most distinguishing features. There were few curved lines or circular forms, and most of the documents were square or rectangular.