Antique furniture holds emotional value and fosters the development of personal connections. Typically, Antiques are classified as being a century or so old and vintage pieces are anything less than that period of time.
Much of the beauty of antique furniture lies in how light interacts with the surfaces of an object. There is dullness in the dialogue between the furniture and natural light in modern objects. The design, in general, is more suitable for conversation with artificial light. Whereas in antique furniture, the textures tell a different story at each time of the day, altering sunlight shades.
In Tanizaki’s book ‘In Praise of Shadows’, he states the outlook of the East in regards to glitter and glam in objects, saying that while they do not dislike everything that shines, they do prefer a pensive lustre to a shallow brilliance. They prefer a faint light that bespeaks a sheen of antiquity.
When humans first started exploring the earth, we were a migratory species. We moved around from place to place in search of food and shelter. This type of lifestyle meant that furniture wasn’t a necessity.
Humans began to design suitable environments wherever they settled. Large, non-portable items of furniture were redundant still because the human species was transitioning from nomadic to settling down. Movement is a fundamental aspect of determining the need and design of furniture.
Rudimentary objects such as tables, chairs, and beds could be used from natural forms that were appropriately shaped. Examples include rocks or assembled wood and leaves. Our earliest ancestors experimented with natural objects that were present nearby and available quickly. , the first chairs and tables were thus carved out of rocks and tree stumps. Gradually, however, communities grew, and there was a need to find comfortable surroundings and a need to settle.
As agricultural societies formed, crafting more significant and permanent furniture objects became a practical solution. People could remain in one place for more extended periods by developing into agrarian communities.
Making more complex furniture from wood, stone, or even animal bones became the norm. Due to the perishable nature of these materials, almost none of these examples survive today. As in so many other inventions, the Ancient Greeks were pioneers in this – one of their many breakthroughs was the development of curved features in furniture, such as table legs or chair backs. They began to turn what had earlier been a humble craftsmanship into a highly skilled form of art. Several Ancient Greek design ideas still reflect in contemporary furniture today. Much of the stylistic design that is revered today in antique furniture is originally derived from that of the ancient Greeks. Such was the purity and practicality of the designs they created.
To state an example, on an ancient Greek gravestone, called the Stele of Hegeso, there is a depiction of the deceased woman sitting on a chair. The seat is articulated with gently curved legs and back. A 19th Century Empire style stool is inspired by the same, with its outwardly curved legs.
Only a few items of furniture have survived the test of time, thus our knowledge of early furniture design is largely derived from its depiction in art forms. We study frescos and pottery decorations to gather knowledge about the furniture in the ancient times.
Antiquity in India
India, being one of the oldest civilizations in history, has a rich repertoire of artifacts and furniture. During the ancient times, many temples and forts were built and woodwork was considered as an art and was also an item of trade. A piece of antique furniture is any collectable furnishing of a considerable age. Often the age, rarity, condition, and other unique features make a piece of furniture a desirable collectible and thus it is regarded as antique furniture. The Indian Antique Furniture supplied is regarded for its aesthetic appeal, regal look, fineness and durability. The furniture adds a royal touch to any home décor and it is a celebration of craftsmanship. Sometimes, this type of furniture offers a variety of benefits that even modern furniture may fail to provide.
Specifically in the Indian context, antique furniture takes many forms. They are reflective of a period in history, with much of the heritage tracing back to the anglo-indian and parsi times. An important example of antique furniture is the swing. Known as ‘Jhula’ in North India and ‘Oonjal’ in the South, it is a traditional aspect of home décor and is even implemented in wedding rituals, especially in Tamil weddings.
Antiques also have a sustainability factor that resonates with the world on an environmental and human level. Since this type of furniture has already been produced and continues to be in use, they have a much smaller carbon footprint than the newly manufactured furniture. Antique furniture pieces, though originally designed for functional purposes are highly valuable pieces known for their intricacy. Antique Furniture depicts the aesthetics, style and design of the times they were carved of. This type of furniture takes us back to the era they were conceived, designed and crafted.
Benefits of Investing in Antique Furniture
Apart from adding aesthetic value to a space, antique furniture has other benefits due to which they are worth investing in. Some of these benefits are enlisted below:
- They have many stories to tell: They speak of authenticity and the desire to surround you with items of true quality. Antique items also serve as a gentle reminder of the progression and passing of time. We are aware that these items have lived with people before us and they will go on to live with others after we are gone.
- Environment Friendly
- Superior Quality
- Make a statement
The broad approach to furniture design through history means today in the 21st Century, there’s a wide range of styles and options to choose from when looking for antique furniture. Whether the options will be explored, admired and valued or not depend on individual taste and preferences.
- ElephantExports. (2020). https://www.elephantaexports.com/blog/everything-you-need-to-know-about-indian-antique-furniture/
- Nimbus Antiques. (2018). https://www.nimbusantiques.co.uk/history-of-antiques/antique-furniture/