Posts Tagged ‘Grand Rapids Bookcase and Chair Co.’

Grand Rapids manufacturers seized upon these various design elements and began to produce the style cheaply. Stickley had to mark his furniture to differentiate it from what he thought were inferior products. He was particularly angered when his brothers Albert and J. George Stickley began producing their own lines of  ‘Stickley’ mission furniture in 1902. The Stickley Brothers were best known for their bookcases and bedroom furniture, and also for their metalwork latches and hinges that had a hand-hammered look. The Stickley Brothers eventually bought out their brother Gustav’s company after he went bankrupt in 1917.

Grand Rapids Area Furniture Manufacturers, alamo heights furniture

Grand Rapids Area Furniture Manufacturers logo

“Other important companies producing mission furniture in Grand Rapids included the Charles P. Limbert Co. Limbert began as a salesman for the Old Hickory Furniture Co. in Martinsville, Indiana, a company that produced popular Arts and Crafts-era rustic furniture. Limbert learned furniture design while living in Chicago, and moved to Grand Rapids to open his own company. The Charles P. Limbert Co. was at its peak from 1904 to 1906. In addition to the traditional Arts and Crafts influences, Limbert was also influenced by traditional Dutch designs, and often promoted the connection between his company and the Dutch settlers of Western Michigan, many of who worked for his company. Other major Michigan manufacturers included the Grand Rapids Bookcase and Chair Co., which produced the ‘Lifetime Furniture’ line, and the Michigan Chair Company.

Grand Rapids Furniture Record, san antonio furniture

Grand Rapids Furniture Record

Grand Rapids furniture manufacturers produced both high-minded and aesthetically pleasing mission furniture, and cheap, crass commercial knock-offs. Even though most of this furniture was built by machine, consumers felt they were buying quality, handcrafted products largely because of the sturdy joinery techniques and hard oak wood. Much of the furniture, even the cheaper-quality items, lasted for years. But the philosophy of the Arts and Crafts Movement of hand-made products of integrity, utility, and simple style was never a part of why most people bought mission-style furniture.

At its height, the Grand Rapids furniture business was as huge success, largely due to Arts and Crafts designs. ‘Furniture City’ boasted the largest furniture showroom in the world. To protect their interests, the major producers joined together in 1911 to create the Grand Rapids Furniture Manufacturers Association, and published the Grand Rapids Furniture Record, a trade publication.

Its decline as a leader in furniture production corresponded with the decline of Arts and Crafts furniture. After the major forests around the city were depleted of resources, the industry moved to cheaper labor markets in the South. During World War I, fifteen of the Michigan manufacturers joined together to build airplanes, a venture that was far from successful. After the war, neither Arts and Crafts furniture nor its Grand Rapids producers recovered.” (Carlson Library, The University of Toledo)

Donald Deskey table, custom furniture san antonio

Donald Deskey table

“With the exception of the work of Louis Comfort Tiffany, who designed furniture primarily for his own use, the United States produced no outstanding art nouveau furniture. Art deco flourished in the United States, mostly in mass-produced furniture of lesser quality. A notable exception is the work of the studio of Donald Deskey, which in 1932 created the palatial art deco interiors and the furniture of Radio City Music Hall in New York City.

The American architect Frank Lloyd Wright also designed furniture, but its idiosyncratic appearance defies categorization, since the furniture design was entirely subordinated to the design of the building; the same motifs appear in both. Wright consistently favored built-in furniture, which tended to merge with the architecture.” (France Era Co.)

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