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Design History Lesson: Shaker Furniture

Hi everyone,

Today I’m shaking things up… ha ha… with a brief lesson in Shaker style furniture. I found this quote that really sums up the Shaker philosophy:

“Don’t make something unless it is both necessary and useful; but if it is both necessary and useful, don’t hesitate to make it beautiful.”

Shakers are a religious sect stemming from Quakers that came to America from Manchester England in 1774. They’re known for their strong beliefs in equality, life-long celibacy, and their lively worship services which earned them the name Shaking Quakers. They’re also well known for their furniture.

Shaker Tilting Chair

For the Shakers, form always follows function. Simplicity and functionality are the key principles behind their designs. The chair pictured above is long and lean with strong vertical lines, but the slight curves in the back slats soften it up a bit.

This particular chair was designed with a ball-and socket mechanism attached to the back legs so that a person could lean back without damaging the chair or the floor or rug beneath it.

I found another Shaker quote which I think is particularly inspiring:

“Do your work as though you had a thousand years to live and as if you were to die tomorrow”.

What do you think of the Shaking Quakers? Do you like their simple linear style? Do you have a Shaker-inspired piece of furniture that you love? Share with us!


A Cupboard for Toni

Last week I had the opportunity to help deliver one of our pieces to a customer’s home. It was really fun to get to see the piece in the space that it was made for and meet the people (and in this case the cats as well!) who will live with it.

Sappho designed this pine cupboard with hand carved panels for Toni who is a lover of nature, gardening and Nova Scotian folk art. After applying two layers of green paint, Sappho hand-painted a bird on each door, and some fiddle heads on the sides of the piece. She chose a nuthatch and a warbler- two birds that are native to Nova Scotia.

Like all of our custom pieces, this was created with the customer in mind and really speaks of her personality. The hand-painted imagery tells a story about where this piece is from and who it belongs to. It also adds another level of artistry to the piece. Beautiful! I can’t help but think how something like this could become a treasured family heirloom.

Here’s the finished cupboard in Toni’s space. Just to the right of the frame there is a wall of windows that give way to a view of Toni’s stunning back garden. This piece is right at home!

Thanks Toni! We hope you enjoy this piece for many years to come!

Design History Lesson: Eero Saarinen

Hello again! I hope you’re all enjoying this beautiful day! The weather is amazing, I have the door wide open here at the shop, letting in all the summery smells and warmth. ahhh…

I’ve recently re-discovered Finnish-American archictect and designer Eero Saarinen, thanks to a charming yellow tulip chair we have in the shop! When I was in art school I took a crash course in design history and I remember taking a liking to Saarinen’s futuristic, space-age looking style.

This cutie is available at the shop!

A lot of Saarinen’s work is made up of smooth forms and continuous lines, so it didn’t surprise me much to learn that he studied sculpture as a young student in Michigan. You can really see his consideration of form in his tulip chairs and table, as well as his Gateway Arch, a monument and observatory in St. Louis.

The Gateway Arch: 630′ high tapered curve- the tallest
man-made monument

Nerd alert: did you know that a variation of the tulip chairs were used on the set on the original Star Trek? Check it out!

Looks like Spok has the same good taste we do!

Even though the Tulip chair was designed over 50 years ago they still carry that futuristic vibe, and continue to suit contemporary decor- the definition of a classic! Want to see a piece of design history for yourself? Our yellow tulip chair is for sale in the shop, come by and check it out!

Hi again!

Just a few exciting updates to share with you all.

First, our lovely Sappho (one of the owners here at henhouse) will be on TV this weekend! Tune in to CBC’s The Breeze this Saturday at 2pm Atlantic to watch Sappho as she demonstrates how to create a beautiful centrepiece for your dining room.

Second, we want you to like us on Facebook! We’re now offering weekly discounts exclusive to our Facebook followers. So, click here to get to our page, and “like” us to keep up to date with our weekly promotions, blog posts, new products and more!

Hope your enjoying this beautiful weather (sun at long long long last!!)!

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