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Edwardian Furniture

In the history of English furniture the Edwardian era does not stand out as a very interesting one. In terms of antique trade jargon the term Edwardian furniture refers to little more than antique reproductions of other, more glorious times.

Furniture makers and manufacturers in the Edwardian era soon realised that reproductions would outsell anything new or innovative. The Edwardian era was the time that saw the explosion of the antique trade and the habit of buying secondhand furniture for homes, continuing throughout the twentieth century.

Bamboo Cabinet
Bamboo Cabinet, 1910

While the Arts and Crafts style continued in popularity it rather failed to accomodate itself to the reality of the machine age in the way that European designers managed to and entered into a decline from the early 20th century.

Avant Garde Furniture

England, the mother of the modern decorative movement, now seems likely to give up the leadership she has so firmly held for twenty years. - "The House is Beautiful", Chicago, 1899

The avant garde furniture movement, called Art Nouveau in France, Jugendstil in Germany, and Stile Liberty in Italy, came to prominence in England in the late nineteenth century and through the Edwardian era it continued to exert an influence although gradually losing vitality.

One of the main designers of Edwardian era avant garde furniture was Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Rennie produced furniture was internationally celebrated and consisted of striking and unorthodox designs.

Settle, 1916, by Charles Rennie Mackintosh
Settle, 1916, by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Painted wood, with fabric upholstery.

Rennie's avant garde furniture was exhibited at various international exhibitions and consisted of curving, elongated lines, leaf and flower motifs, and flowing feminine figures. When taken out of its context within a room his furniture can appear overly worked, and it was often derided as being of the "Spook School" for this reason.

Avant Garde Table
Avant Garde Table, 1903, by Charles Voysey

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