Shaker Doors and Furniture History

Shaker doors have taken the simplicity of design and style and brought those attributes to the modern home to provide a stylish finish, plain but beautiful.

Shaker furniture is a very distinctive style of furniture developed by the United Society of Believers in Christ's Second Appearing, commonly known as Shakers they were a religious sect that had guiding principles of simplicity, utility and honesty. Their beliefs were reflected in the well-made furniture of minimalist designs.

Shaker communities were largely self-sufficient: in their attempt to separate themselves from the outside world and to create a heaven-on-earth, members grew their own food, constructed their own buildings, and manufactured their own tools and household furnishings.—Metropolitan Museum of Art 

The production of furniture was a core business for the New Lebanon Shaker community by the 1860s, the production of well-made "ladder" back or turned post chairs proved popular.

The typically minimalist design and woven (webbing) seats were fast and easy to produce. Furniture built and used by the New Lebanon "believers" is exhibited in the Shaker Retiring Room at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. The furniture, acquired in the 1970s, and Shaker textiles are considered among the finest Shaker collections in the world.

Many examples of Shaker furniture continue to survive and are preserved today, including such popular forms as Shaker tables, chairs, rocking chairs (made in several sizes), and cabinets. Collections of Shaker furniture are beutifully maintained by many art and historical museums in the United States and England (UK), as well as in numerous private collections. The simple underlying principles of Shaker design have given inspiration to some of the finest designers of modern furniture and doors. Also many ideals of furniture formed around the common Shaker furniture construction.

          Shaker cabinet.jpg          Shaker dining table.JPG           Rocker in the Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill.jpg

Furniture was made thoughtfully and now doors follow the theme, with functional form and proportion. Rather than using ornamentation — such as inlays, carvings, metal pulls, or veneers — which was seen as prideful or deceitful, they developed "creative solutions such as asymmetrical drawer arrangements and multipurpose forms to add visual interest." Furniture was made of cherry, maple or pine lumber, nowadays doors are made in oak veneers, pine or white painted MDF, the furniture which was generally stained or painted with one of the colors were dictated by the sect, typically blue, red, yellow or green. Drawer pulls for dressers or other furniture were made of wood.

The shaker door look therefore has to be simple clean edges to the panel or glazing areas and the use of extra projecting beading or mouldings does not conform with the original design principles or ethos, any door furniture, handles, hinges etc should be as simple as is possible.

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