Contemporary European Furniture
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Contemporary European Furniture

The explosion in European furniture occurred during the great reform and revolution in the arts industry.

The explosion in European furniture occurred during great reform and revolution in the arts industry. The revolution and reform ushered in multi-faceted furniture designs that turned the history of furniture in Europe for good. The revolt gave birth to some movements such as the Vienna ‘Sezession’ in 1897, which was founded by the Austrian architects Otto Wagner, Josef Hoffmann, and Joseph Maria Olbrich. They designed the building that housed the exhibitions of the ‘Sezession’ between1898 to 1899; and the ‘Wiener Werkstatte’ (Vienna Workshop) in 1903. The ‘Werkstätte’ produced exquisite and highly decorative arts and furniture in compartmental forms. They were significantly influenced by the geometric style of the Scottish architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh. However, the ‘Sezessionstil’ (German, ‘secession style’) borrowed its basics from both the German Bauhaus and the French art deco.

Art Deco Napier on flickr by russelljsmith

Bauhaus Weimar Summaery 2010 fan chairs on flickr by smowblog


The Bauhaus was founded in 1919 in Weimar, Germany, by the architect Walter Gropius. The Bauhaus was one of the most respected schools of arts and architecture where classic and contemporary furniture were manufactured. Furniture in the Bauhaus were designed by its most renowned architects, Marcel Breuer and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. Breuer designed his ‘Wassily’ armchair, of chrome-plated steel tubing and canvas, in 1925 and his cantilevered side chair, in 1928. Mies designed the notorious Barcelona chair, in 1929. These Bauhaus designs were accepted and loved by many, so other companies took advantage of its popularity to make imitations.

Art Deco Napier on flickr by russelljsmith

Art Deco

Art Deco is a style that was popular from the 1920's-1930's used primarily for the designing of buildings, furniture, jewelry, and interior decoration in general. The term ‘art deco’ is an acronym of the title of a major Paris design exhibition held in 1925 called the ‘Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes’, (International Exposition of Modern Industrial and Decorative Arts). Although the name of this design is greatly associated with the exhibition, it is believed that the design originated much earlier than 1925. Great French art deco designers whose contributions have a tremendous impact in the industry include Louis Majorelle, André Groult, Pierre Chareau, and Jacques Émile Ruhlmann. The art deco style raved through the 1930s and 1940s and stamped a mark of influence on the universal furniture industry. Later in the 1970's and 1980's a lot of companies stepped into the manufacturing of imitation art deco furniture because of the wide acceptability of the design. The flooding of the market with art deco furniture imitations soon debased the design and made it common.

Scandinavian Furniture

There was an upsurge of contemporary furniture in the Scandinavian design. Some of the designers who brought the Scandinavian contemporary furniture to the limelight include the Finnish architect Alvar Aalto and the Danish designer Arne Jacobsen who created exquisite laminated wood furniture and mass produced their designs. Today, most of the world’s best furniture designs descended from the contemporary European furniture designs of the early 20th Century.

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