Adrian Cruce

Classic American Shaker Design Style Characteristics

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The American Shaker design style is one that not many know much about. Everything started with the Shakers, which were a religious sect that was founded at the end of the 1700s in England. The design philosophy was basically based on usefulness and necessity. Only after such elements became a reality the designs focused on beauty. All people believed in communal living and common ownership.

Shakers eventually immigrated to America. They led a peaceful life of celibacy and abstinence. Because of the celibate beliefs that the group shared, the entire community was slow to reach growth. Conversion was the only way in which they survived.

The Birth Of The Shaker Style

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The classic American shaker design style is based on functionality first and unnecessary decorations were not even considered. Even so, the quality of the wood that was used in the created furniture was always as high as it can be, with a focus to get as close to perfection as possible. This design style is simple, uncluttered and open. Natural materials like cotton quilting, silk, wool and handcrafted wood were used.

Shaker Furniture

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The most important part of shaker design is the furniture that was created. This is what withstood the test of time and that is nowadays seen as a testament of that period in time. We can instantly recognize Shaker furniture because of the featured grace, honesty, simplicity, sturdiness and utility. Most of the best Classical American Shaker Design furniture pieces are nowadays stored in historical and art museums all around England and USA.

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We can say that Shaker furniture stood out as being years ahead of the time when it was created because of function and form. Shaker style became a precursor of modern design movement thanks to its utility, harmony and order, all being main objectives of a good craftsmanship.


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Classical American shaker design style features dark and rich colors. The really common one used were forest blue, green, ruby red and similar in a combination with prominent and heavy damask patterns. When Shaker furniture first appeared on the market, it featured a color palette that was highly restricted. Eventually, this changed as a mastering of the chemical dying process became reality. All fabrics were patterned. For winter use, damask and velvet were popular.