Furniture can be a product of design and is considered a form of decorative art. In addition to furniture's functional role, it can serve a symbolic or religious purpose. Domestic furniture works to create, in conjunction with furnishings such as clocks and lighting, comfortable and convenient interior spaces. Furniture can be made from many materials, including metal, plastic, and wood. Furniture can be made using a variety of woodworking joints which often reflect the local culture.
The first three-quarters of the twentieth century are often seen as the march towards Modernism. Art Deco, De Stijl, Bauhaus, Wiener Werkstätte, and Vienna Secession designers all worked to some degree within the Modernist idiom. Born from the Bauhaus and Art Deco/Streamline styles came the post WWII "Mid-Century Modern" style using materials developed during the war including lamenated plywood, plastics and fiberglass. Prime examples include furniture designed by George Nelson Associates, Charles and Ray Eames, Paul McCobb, Florence Knoll, Harry Bertoia, Eero Saarinen, Harvey Probber, Vladamir Kagan, Finn Juhl, Arne Jacobsen, and others. Postmodern design, intersecting the Pop art movement, gained steam in the 1960s and 70s, promoted in the 80s by groups such as the Italy-based Memphis movement. Transitional furniture is intended to fill a place between Traditional and Modern tastes.
The basic uses for furniture are:
Probably the first pieces to be in demand historically were the chest, the stool (prototype of the chair), the table and the bed. Furniture can be made using many materials, including wood, metal, leather, plastic and fabric. Cabinetry and cabinet-making are terms for the skillset used in the building of furniture.
The function (practicality and use) of furniture is most important when you begin to consider certain furniture pieces. How will you use the family room? Are pets a consideration? How about lounging teenagers who will be playing video games for hours? Should a large-screen TV for all the sporting events be the focal point of the room? Leather upholstery…is that for you?
Think about the dining room, do you like to entertain and linger after dinner for conversation and fellowship? If so the dining chairs must be comfortable—don’t buy them if they are not.
There are many different styles of furniture. Decorating your living space is a personal expression of your personality—a statement about you. It is recommended that you know what YOU like, what woods and colors please YOU, what best expresses YOUR individuality. If you like a neutral, quiet, uncluttered contemporary feeling for your home, you will probably not be comfortable in a casual, colorful country-cluttered environment.
From ancient times to the contemporary era, furniture design and manufacturing has been an expression of culture and civilization bringing furniture above and beyond the merely functional aspect.