Antique mission chairs are a throwback to traditional American design, encompassing the era that brought us Shaker furniture. This era of religious furniture bears the trademark high quality workmanship and simplistic design which have proven so popular in modern times, and is truly reflective of the dedicated, simplistic lifestyles led by our recent ancestors.
Unfortunately, original mission chairs are becoming less and less common, although the mission style is still very much in use today in various different forms. A design concept way ahead of its time, the modernist stylings of mission furniture make it unique, and have been the source of inspiration for many more contemporary designers of furniture. In this article, we will discuss the background to the mission style, and highlight some of its key features.
The History of the Mission Style
The mission style originated in the nineteenth century by church congregations in Western America. A style borne more out of necessity than choice, the mission style arose from basic need for church furniture and a lack of funds with which to purchase the furniture.
The congregations decided to exercise their strong work ethic and high degree of manual dexterity, and devoted their time to producing simplistic and functional furniture which we today know as antique mission chairs.
The furniture was also produced and sold to the public to raise funds for the church, and the quality of workmanship is still evident to this day. The furniture soon became mass produced for the consumer market, and was highly successful during its lifetime.
Nowadays, mission style furniture is still produced by volumes of manufacturers, and it is still popular although the quality can vary wildly. Through simple, minimalist designs, the spirit of the mission style lives on, and is still widely regarded as contemporary modern design.
Features of the Mission Style
The mission style is focused around a basic consideration for solid, practical furniture. It appears very blocky and chunky, with very little in the way of decor or design. Antique mission chairs are primarily wooden, and are seldom painted. The preference for basic design is what makes mission furniture popular even today. It seems almost universally appealing to have basic designs which can fit in with any surrounding interior.
Additionally, a key feature of mission furniture is its durability. The reason mission furniture lasts so well is because it is original, hand crafted furniture, and the degree of skill involved in making the furniture reflects its lifetime of use. This is again seen as an attractive feature, making antique mission chairs and furniture quite collectable in modern times.
Antique mission chairs have a very interesting history. Their design is derived from practicality and functionality, rather than from expression, yet they are still seen as typifying the period from which they originate. It is interesting to see how evergreen the designs have been, and will surely continue to be in the future.
A style that never seems to go out of fashion, the mission style is still today produced in various different guises, and it is still as popular as ever. To get to the real mission furniture though, you might be a bit more hard pressed. Original models are now extremely rare and highly collectable, although you never know when you might just pick up a bargain.