History of Furniture: Shaker Style Furniture

"The peculiar grace of a Shaker chair is due to the fact that it was built by someone capable of believing that an angel might come down and sit on it." - Thomas Merton

Shaker furniture has changed little since its inception in the late 1700's by a Christian denomination (the Shakers) that stressed beliefs of simplicity and efficiency. Trademarks of Shaker style furniture include spare design with straight lines, straightforward construction techniques and an understated beauty that reflects the modest values of the Shaker community.

Shaker style furniture


The Shakers were among the first in America to try mass production, and they were so successful at it that the Shaker name became synonymous with quality. Mortise and tenon joinery and dovetailing are a hallmark of the Shaker style. Contrary to common belief, the Shakers are not similar to Luddites, or the Amish, in that they embrace technology that increases efficiency, which saves them the time that belongs to God.

Shaker style office furniture


Shaker style furniture was also seen as innately American in its rejection of anything European or British, and demand among non-Shaker colonists was strong in the aftermath of the Revolutionary War. Shaker style furniture, with their famous Shaker chairs and Shaker style beds, ironically later inspired the Danish Modern movement known for its simplicity, purity of form, and grace.

While Shaker style furniture is generally thought of in a traditional context, this connection makes the combination of Modern style furniture and Shaker style furniture easy to combine within a room or house, making it a great choice for Transitional and Contemporary homes. The clean spare lines of both styles allow an easy blend, and soft furnishings can add a little warmth to the overall look.

Below are images of some of The Joinery's favorite Shaker furniture pieces from our standard line, including our Shaker Dining Table in Cherry, the Shaker Writing Desk in Cherry, and the Shaker Reverse Bed in Fumed White Oak. You can see our full range of Shaker style furniture.

Shaker Dining Table in Cherry, shown with One Leaf

Shaker Writing Desk in Cherry with Cherry Shaker Knobs

Shaker Reverse Bed in Fumed White Oak Mattress and Boxspring