Mission Furniture is a specific design dating back to the Arts and Crafts movement, which was begun in England, and quickly found a home and following in the United States.
A Brief History of Mission Furniture
In the United States, Mission style furniture was often used interchangeably with Arts and Crafts Furniture and designs.
The term ‘Mission Style’ itself refers to the influence of traditional decorating style, furniture and interiors of the American Southwest. And although it had many features in common with the earlier British Arts and Crafts designs, Mission Style also blended elements of traditional Spanish colonial architecture and furnishings, as well as Native American patterns from pottery, traditional basket weaving and woven rug designs and colors. In fact, as Mission furniture became more popular, so did the collecting of Southwestern artifacts. In fact, many of today’s most avid collectors of mission furniture still decorate their homes in the southwestern style to show of the clean lines and natural warmth and beauty of their Mission furniture.
In southern California, two brothers, Charles and Henry Greene were two well-known and important architects The use of this term reflects the influence of traditional furnishings and interiors from the American Southwest, which had many features in common with the earlier British Arts and Crafts forms. Charles and Henry Greene were important Mission style architects working in California. Southwestern style also incorporated Hispanic elements associated with the early Mission and Spanish architecture, and Native American design. The result was a blending of the arts and crafts rectilinear forms with traditional Spanish colonial architecture and furnishings. Mission Style interiors were often embellished with Native American patterns, or actual Southwestern Native American artifacts such as rugs, pottery, and baskets. The collecting of Southwestern artifacts became very popular in the first quarter of the twentieth century.
Stickley’s Mission Oak and Cherry Collection pay a lasting tribute to eminent designers Gustav Stickley and his brother, Leopold.
Other mission furniture trends that are seen as equally beautiful and representative of the best in Mission furniture come from the work of Harvey Ellis of the the Roycroft community, Charles Limbert, and the Prairie School.
The mission furniture movement was more than the quest for durable and beautiful furniture. The leaders of the Arts and Crafts movement in the United States had a dream of creating a haven of peace and serenity in the home – as a way of shutting out the industrialization and urbanization of the day. They wanted to bring back the respect for true craftsmen, who could not only showcase their skill and artistic talents in the furniture they built, but could earn a living for themselves and their families at the same time.
The Mission Furniture movement is known for using natural colour palettes in fabrics and other soft furnishings and npainted, highly polished woods.
A perfect example of the art and craftsmanship can be found in the whimsical inlays of Harvey Ellis.
Mission Furniture ideas for today’s collector
And what of today’s Mission furniture collector? Besides being beautiful and long-lasting (the heirlooms of tomorrow’s families), Mission furniture is incredibly comfortable.
Imagine coming home after a long day’s work, stressed out after your commute in stop and go traffic, your mind whirling from all the things on your to-do list… After taking off your things, putting the keys on the hook, and grabbing today’s mail, you sink into the deep comfort of your Mission furniture chair, settle back, and put your feet up on a footstool or ottoman… And as you relax, the stress of the day drains out of you…
And by the way, whether you choose an ottoman (so named for the original headwear of the Ottoman Empire) which is an upholstered footrest, or a footstool (which may or may not be upholstered), Stickley’s versions carry both types. And you can choose your style and coverings – for example, the famous top-grain leather, or arts and crafts style in your choice of fabrics and colours. The footstool/ottomans are featured in most of the Stickley seating style collections.
Whether you use it to put your feet up and relax, pull it out for extra seating, top it with a tray to created a small table, or stand on it to reach things up high, Stickley footstools are quality examples of the advanced construction, design and aesthetic ideas of mission furniture and Stickley furniture specifically.
Come and visit our stores at 561 and 567 Mount Pleasant Road to discover how a piece of mission furniture can fit in your home and have tomorrow’s heirloom at home today.
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