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From a Designer’s Journal: Evolution of Furniture Design

A few days ago, I was driving with my aunt; she is a smart lady, the kind of person you like from the first hello. We spotted an old white Rolls Royce passing by us and we started talking. She mentioned that she liked old cars, old fashion, old furniture specially 30 and 40’s. For her, they embedded a richness that people used to have in themselves, the showiness we experience nowadays but in a glamorous classy way. I tried to explain to her that furniture changed because our lives changed; palaces became villas and large homes became 3 bedrooms apartments. Not only kings and ministers own expensive furniture; now, everybody wants a Masterpiece in his house. In addition to the fact that life runs in a faster pace thus, as a joke, cleaning modern furniture is easier!

Then I started thinking; what was the real difference between the antique and the modern?

In the age of kings, the makers were not known. The furniture piece was called by the king’s era. No one ever heard of Charles Rohlfs or Thomas Chippendale or even George Hepplewhite who influenced the Regency era’s furniture. But I bet all the money in my pocket that nine of ten people can recognize Philip Stark or Le Corbusier or even Armani who started his home collection a few years ago.

Furniture in the past centuries relied on workmanship, full of moldings, animal and floral shapes. Furniture in the late 90 and 21st century relies on names and labels. The age of craftsmanship is over. Now is the time of designers!

Being more of a modern thinker, some would accuse me of trashing antique furniture, which is not true in anyway; I am sure these beautiful pieces have reached their purpose of showing off for the most ornamented piece in palaces of kings and queens. I am not elevating banality in design either, where four pieces of wood and a top make a table. I plead the case of creative modern design because they are down to earth, down to people who look for inspiration every day. The marketing movement made people believe that they are worthy of getting whatever they dream of. And they are!

While antique pieces sell richness and showiness, modern pieces sell esthetic and comfort. For me, a rich piece is not one with heavy ornament or even labeled by a famous designer; it is the piece that speaks to me, shares its rich visual in a space, bonds with the feeling and atmosphere that people are looking for.

The designer must sell his vision not his hand making, his concept not his label. Whether he/ she are marketing antique or modern designs, he/ she are reflecting a sentiment, a way of life and their vision to the buyer. I agree that everybody deserves to own treasures in their homes because everybody is allowed to realize their dreams.

So here is my vision: If your dream is to have a gigantic antique clock, buy it. If your dream is to have Le Corbusier’s relaxing chair, buy it. But don’t buy a Masterpiece to show off; buy a Masterpiece to fulfill its Master’s desire.

by Pascale Azzi – Interior Architect

3 responses

  1. Shadi Daher

    A very thoughtful and truthful article, that, to some extent, puts each style back in its rightful place (or time, for that matter).
    I am a big advocate of living the present with its furniture that depicts it, and serves a contemporary need and satisfies a nagging purpose.That’s not to say that I’m a classic-furniture-hater, per se, but as mentioned in this article, each era or period should have its own style that serves it, and thereby defines it. Afterall, furniture is not a commodity, but rather a necessity.
    Good job…

    February 25, 2011 at 4:24 pm

  2. Thank you Shadi! I always have this argument for those stuck in the past. They don’t realize that in order to understand the modern, you must appreciate the classic. As with everything, furniture must evolve and incorporate our CURRENT needs. We must live with our furniture and not just store and stare at it:) But living in the Middle East, this notion will take some time 🙂 thank you for your feedback, and glad you liked it!

    February 25, 2011 at 6:13 pm

  3. jimmy hunter


    February 25, 2011 at 8:14 pm

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