Yes! We know this history of furniture article series is really interesting! Learning history how furniture design has been a part of the human experience since the beginning of history, enables us to develop a better understanding of the world in which we live. By building knowledge and understanding of historical events and trends, especially over the past century enables us to develop a much greater appreciation for current events today in our life. For those of you who missed our first series of this article please do check our introduction article before you start. We have uploaded the Neolithic Period and Ancient Rome. In this article, we will continue to discuss ancient Greece furniture.
Greek culture can be said to have begun with the Bronze Age civilization of the Minoans in Crete. The Minoans built vast palaces and were skilled in metalwork, pottery, artwork, and the crafting of jewelry. Civilization on the Greek mainland followed closely behind that of Crete, and Greece soon became the cultural center of the ancient world. Ancient Greek civilization was at its zenith during the Classical era, from 499 BC to 79 BC.
Table of contents: - Ancient Greek Life - Greek Furniture
The early Greeks were encouraged to be great thinkers and philosophers. Their scientists and mathematicians laid the groundwork that made today’s scientific discoveries possible. They loved to gather together to discuss concepts, ideas, religion, and politics, spending much time in the agora (marketplace) in conversation and argument. Ancient Greeks were great lovers of beauty, art, literature, and drama, and enjoyed listening to stories, fables, and legends. In addition, the city-state of Athens is considered the birthplace of intellectual freedom and democracy – lasting legacies that helped to mold the ideas that have influenced the development of Western civilization.
The Greek history of furniture can be traced back to the heritage of Egyptian furniture. The earliest Greek civilizations borrowed styles and ideas from Egypt, but by the Classical era, designs had subtly changed to a style that was uniquely Greek. Lines became softer, much use was made of subtle and elegant curves, and more attention was given to comfort. Although almost no furniture has survived the centuries, Greek artwork such as pottery decorations and friezes depict daily Greek life in Greek homes, and this has given us an accurate idea of early Greek furniture designs.
Although the Greeks borrowed the original design of their furniture during the Classical era from the culture of Egyptians and other surrounding peoples, the furniture styles were transformed by Greeks and these Greek furniture styles influenced and continue to influence furniture styles into the modern centuries. The Greek furniture tended to be round, curved, of softer style, more ornamental, comfortable, supportive to the body, symmetrical, and functional than the styles of Egyptian furniture. The ancient history of furniture came to us principally from the art records left to us by the earlier society and specifically, the knowledge came from numerous configurations that were found on Greek vases, sculptures, inscriptions, tombstones, coins, reliefs in the Parthenon, paintings in pottery, relief carvings and other illustrated examples depicted in Greek art.
Read also: The History of Furniture - Neolithic Period
In this study, the main and most popular forms and styles of ancient Greek furniture of the Classical and Hellenistic era, that have been recorded, such as stools (Bathron, Diphros Okladias, Thronos, footstools), tables, kline (a banquet couch), chairs (klismos), chests, etc. are presented and analyzed. Valuable information is also recorded about their construction, the materials and types of connection used in furniture construction, as well as, the tools and machinery being used by the craftsmen. The principal goal of this study is to examine the significance of these unique pieces of furniture for the daily life of that times, the evolution of the architecture and designs of ancient Greek furniture through the ages, the inspiration of the modern designers and manufacturers by them and the reappearance of ancient Greek forms and designs in modern artifacts.
Greek furniture styles were simple, elegant, and tasteful. Although carving and inlays were used, furniture was not over-decorated. Houses were not cluttered with much furniture, and household items were made for use and comfort rather than decoration. However, the Greek love of beauty and art extended to furniture design, and the few simple items of furniture in an early Greek household were often works of art in their own right.
The typical material used for designing furniture was wood because it was durable and easy to fashion. Typical wood varieties include maple, oak, willow, cedar, cypress, lime, and olive. By the 6th century BC, the Greeks had most of the possible hand tools for designing wood – the adze, ax, saw, plane, hammer, rule, and lathe. The finishing method included veneer, painting with geometric decorations, and oil polish. Unfortunately, many examples of this wooden ancient furniture have rotted away over the centuries, although some survive.
On the other hand, stationary furniture such as dining couches, and outdoor furniture like the benches in a theater, were often sculpted out of stone or metal; mostly bronze, iron, silver, and gold. Luckily, some Greek amphitheaters are well preserved and the stone forms of the furniture can still be seen today.
The main types of furniture used in ancient Greece were stools, couches, small tables, chests, and chairs. During the 5th and 4th century BC the art of furniture-making developed to express the lifestyle and spirit characteristic of Ancient Greek civilization.
Greek classical furniture was the inspiration for the designers of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Of course, many eras since have copied these ancient Greek styles in what has become known as a Neo-Classical style or Neo-Classical Revival. Archaeological finds fired the imagination of the world, and the simple, elegant lines of ancient Greek furniture inspired the cabinet makers of the day to move away from earlier, heavier, and more ornate styles to imitate ancient Greek and Roman designs. This gave rise to the Neoclassical style of furniture, which is much sought after by antique collectors of today. Early Greek furniture design has influenced the world of interior decorating, just as surely as early Greek thinking has left its mark on the world of science and technology. In Kaliuda Gallery, you can custom various furniture & home decorations. We are one of the best Bali furniture stores and antique galleries with the best quality and service. Keep ready our blog to find out more about ancient Rome’s history of furniture in the next article.