Mission Furniture – Design Dictionary Term

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Armchair, 1907 - 1913 designed by Gustav Stickley
Armchair, 1907 – 1913 designed by Gustav Stickley

American Arts and Crafts Movement

The early twentieth-century American furniture design style, particularly Gustav Stickley’s and the Roycroft Community’s work. An offshoot of the Arts and Crafts movement in the United States. Mission furniture was so named because its proponents believed it had a purpose—design utility. Stickley, in particular, was a fervent supporter of William Morris’ theories. As a result, Stickley’s furniture was made in a workplace set up as a quasi-socialist commune. The Roycroft Community, on the other hand, was little more than a factory. In both examples, the furniture reflects Arts and Crafts aesthetic values more closely than most British design.

Mahogany Cellarette made at Roycroft
Mahogany Cellarette made at Roycroft

Mission furniture featured a simple, rectilinear style with exposed construction techniques, simple materials (typically oak with leather canvas or plain cloth coverings), and little or no embellishment. The Mission style influenced works by Greene and Greene and Arthur and Lucia Mathew on the west coast and the Prairie School and Frank Lloyd Wright in the mid-west. The Arts and Crafts gospel was promoted through Stickley’s publication The Craftsman.

Chest, 1903 designed by Gustav Stickley
Chest, 1903 designed by Gustav Stickley

Sources

Boyce, C. (1985). The Wordsworth Dictionary of furniture. Wordsworth Reference.

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Gustav Stickley (1858 – 1942) American furniture designer

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Elbert Green Hubbard (1856 – 1915) American furniture designer

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