If you like your furniture built solid and built to last with no frills or needless embellishment, then Mission Style furniture is what you’re looking for. The Mission or Arts and Crafts Movement was a backlash against the extravagant, over-the-top designs of the Victorian era and also against the mass produced furniture emerging after the industrial revolution. In the late 1890s, craftsmen such as Gustav Stickley led the charge to incorporate clean, geometric lines and natural materials to produce structurally sound pieces that emphasized the originality of the craftsman and his handiwork.
Telltale signs of Mission Style furniture include visible joints, such as the mortise and tenon that was popular at the time and continues to serve furniture makers today, as well as quarter-sawn wood which gave the grain a beautiful look. Nails and rivets were often left exposed to add a gleaming contrast to the wood or upholstery. While the philosophy seems to set-up decades of fabulously boring furniture, it was anything but. Rather, Mission furniture was beautifully designed, with manufacturers relying on exquisite craftsmanship and finishing techniques to add serene elegance to an item.
The Mission Style has been revived recently with many furniture manufacturers producing sturdier, solid wood pieces built to be passed on from generation to generation. This philosophy has been extended to much of the aesthetic of contemporary furniture. Clean, sharp geometric lines and a lack of ornamentation along with a renewed sense of pride in craftsmanship are present in much of today’s furniture.
If you’re interested in getting the Mission look in your home search out solid, rustic-looking pieces that appear to have aged well or newer pieces that look like they can stand the test of time. Rich wood tones like mahogany and stained oak are the trademarks of classic Mission Style, but modern pieces can be found in a wide array of colors, wood types, and finishes. Good luck as you work toward creating a beautiful Mission look in your home.