Thomas Chippendale: The Most Influential Furniture Designer in History

CoBo Social Chinese Abstraction Series

He was born 300 years today, published a bestseller, The Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker’s Director, and changed the history of furniture design and branding. Thomas Chippendale (1718–1779) has become a household name in the furniture world since this publication in the mid-eighteenth century, and has been considered the most influential furniture designer in history. The book was just one aspect of his multifaceted career that cemented his name internationally, but Chippendale founded a super successful furniture workshop in London, providing furniture for Georgian mansions and country houses, and dominated London’s luxury trade. He exemplified the notion of branding when his illustrated book was utilized by cabinetmakers across Britain, North America, and elsewhere, coining the term ‘Chippendale Style.’ This ‘style’ was actually composed of three different styles which were in vogue in England at the time, none of which were his invention: French Rococo, Chinese, and Gothic, all co-existed in his luxurious furniture, in the eve of the Industrial Revolution, when furniture was crafted of imported hardwoods. I could not resist but adding an image of a chair from a dining suite made in Philadelphia for the Second Street house of General John Cadwalader, in the collection of the Met, which has brought the record price for any American Chippendale furniture.




Dr. Daniella Ohad is a design historian, educator, writer, and tastemaker, who received her Ph.D. degree from the Bard Graduate Center for Studies in the Decorative Arts, Design and Culture. For the past two decades, she has been committed to education in design history and theory, history of the interior, material culture, and the decorative arts, with a special expertise in modern and contemporary design culture. She has taught in some of the world’s leading art institutions, and currently leads “Collecting Design: History, Collections, Highlights, the only program on collecting design at the New York School of Interior Design. Her articles and critiques have been published in magazines and peer-review journals, and she is a moderator in various design events across the globe. Dr. Ohad has been a member in various acquisition committees in NYC museums, and her blog Daniella on Design attracts hundreds of thousands of readers weekly. She lives and works in New York City.



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