Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Needing, Wanting, Loving: Shaker Kitchen Cabinetry

The Shakers (formally called The United Society of Believers in Christ's Second Appearing) are a fascinating sect of people.  While only one community of Shakers remain in the United States, they originally formed in 18th century England and were 6,000 members strong in the mid 1800s.   There were many Shaker communities in early colonial America, and they had interesting rituals and values.  They felt men and women were equal, and women held important leadership roles within the sect.  They were celibate, strictly opposed to war or violence of any kind, and lived a communal lifestyle where everyone had a job that contributed to the overall wellbeing of the group.  They took in everyone- from the homeless, to abandoned children, to anyone ostracized in society- and treated them as an equal.  While all these qualities make them truly fascinating, what I love most about the Shakers is their enduring furniture design.

Like the Shakers themselves, their furniture was simple, pure, and unadorned.  Their pieces were made thoughtfully and with remarkable quality.  While decoration and adornment for adornment's sake was seen as greedy, Shakers became creative and used asymmetry and stained woods to add flair to their designs. Today, one of the most enduring styles of cabinetry is adopted from the Shakers, particularly their doors.  As can be seen in the photo below, Shaker doors were characterized by central inset panels:

Today, "Shaker cabinetry" design mimics the original forms, with a recessed central panel.  It's timeless and chic, and clearly never going out of style:

Read more about the Shakers, their lifestyle, and their furniture here and here

Happy Wednesday!

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