Furniture has star qualities unlike any other object:
It is both functional and decorative, yet it can connect us to history and far-flung places around the globe in the same way a Renaissance painting sends us back in time or a photograph takes us to a beloved overseas locale. Furniture also appeals to four of our senses at once: we see the way it makes an otherwise dull room into a glamorous one; we touch its sleek modern lines and soft fabrics; we hear hinges creaking; we smell the rich scents of antique wood and leather.
The authors, each of whom are experts on furniture, share their knowledge of its value and importance from an intellectual and emotional perspective, and describe how best to assess it from an aesthetic one, exploring styles, techniques and materials. They introduce twenty golden ages, from the ancient world to the twentieth century, by way of such rich moments as Ming in China, Italian and French Baroque, Chippendale in England, the designs of Newport and Philadelphia in America, Neoclassicism in France, Russia and Sweden, Biedermeier, Shaker and Art Deco. They also spotlight the most brilliant contemporary international designers, both those who see furniture as akin to fine art and those who simply enjoy the craft involved. They explain how your own star piece can enrich an interior with glamour, drama and personality and advise on how to commission a unique handmade piece and buy antique furniture.
Two of the field’s foremost experts – David Linley, who rose to the head of his profession after founding his own firm in 1985, and Charles Cator, who holds special responsibility in furniture and decorative arts at Christie’s International – provide unsurpassable guidance, with their intimate understanding of the subject from both a commercial and enthusiast’s perspective. Combined with Helen Chislett, who offers insightful comments from her experience as a writer on decorative arts, no group of authors is better suited to discuss these topics. Their illuminating text is supplemented by rich and varied illustrations – details of carving, ornamentation and upholstery, views of different styles of furniture used in historic and contemporary interiors, original drawings, and spectacular pieces, both antique and contemporary.