Mission Style
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No one is certain how it got the name “mission-style furniture. Some believe it is related to the philosophy of the movement, that the furniture was functional and had a “mission” to be used. Others believe the furniture was derived from the designs of furniture found in the missions in California. The descriptive name "mission furniture" is thought to be coined by Joseph McHugh, a New York furniture manufacturer and retailer, to describe his line of straight line rustic style furniture that he began producing about 1895. The mission style furniture design was based on a chair that had been designed for the Swedenborgian Church of the New Jerusalem in San Francisco, circa 1894-1985. The mission chair was a simple rush-seated chair. The design of the church and the chairs were influenced by the Spanish missions of the area, thus the term "mission furniture". The architectural office of A. Page Brown had architects Bernard Maybeck and A.C. Schweinfurth design the church and they chose this mission style.
Mission furniture caught on as a generic term for the style of furniture and also the European term "arts & crafts" was used. At about the same time that McHugh was commercializing his line of mission furniture; Elbert Hubbard and Gustav Stickley were developing their own designs. Many of the pieces had transitional designs that combined both Arts and Crafts and Art Nouveau styles, but by 1900 the designs of Stickley and Roycroft became more straight lined and developed into the familiar mission style, as we know it. Interestingly, both McHugh and Stickley exhibited at the 1901 Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York with McHugh winning a silver medal.
Mission style furniture really caught on around the turn of the century. At that time many homes were furnished with either mission furniture or Victorian furniture or both. Many firms started manufacturing a line of mission furniture or were totally dedicated to this style. The best known firm and considered to be the best in terms of design and quality was the Craftsman Workshops of Gustav Stickley.
Gustav Stikley
It is Gustav Stikley’s work that most people associate with Arts & Craft Furniture. Stickley achieved success in the early 1900’s as the leader of the Arts & Crafts Movement in America. He was already an established furniture manufacturer when, in 1898, he began to design a new line inspired by the designs he had seen in Europe. In 1901, Stickley founded The Craftsman magazine, which expounded the philosophy of the English Arts & Crafts movement. He worked with architect Harvey Ellis to design house plans for the magazine. He published 221 such plans over the next fifteen years. Gustav Stikley created the first truly American furniture known throughout the world as craftsman. The new line of handcrafted furniture was based on honesty and simplicity. Stickley’s craftsman furniture, also known in the United States as mission style, resulted in simple, sturdy and functional furnishings. Stickley believed in clean lines and the inherent beauty of natural wood and leather. Strong, simple construction and honest, comfortable design were at the heart of his furniture. His furniture provided a stark contrast to the dominant Victorian styling of an era characterized by gaudy machine-made designs. Stickley's mission furniture is characterized by straight, clean lines and the simple appeal of quarter-sawn white oak with features of joinery, including through tenons, corbels and butterfly joints.
A Touch of Stickley
Gustav Stickley’s influence can be seen through out our guest rooms. The clean lines, honesty and simplicity of Stickley’s craftsman style furniture was a perfect choice for our night stands and the quarter-sawn oak chairs. The chairs were manufactured in Massachusetts and the night stands, desks and dressers came from Arkansas. Mission style furniture being sturdy and functional are just some of the reasons the mission style is as popular today as it was in the 1920’s
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