How Simple Shaker Furniture Has Influenced Centuries of Design

Shaker furniture has been collectible for as long as it’s been around. Connoisseurs in the early 20th century would visit Shaker communities scattered throughout the Northeast to make friends and buy up everything they could, says antiques dealer David Schorsch. That was also when contemporary designers and artists drank in Shaker ideals, with movements like Bauhaus blurring the line between minimal art and utilitarian design. Shaker influence was even more prominent in the stripped-down functionality of the midcentury-modern movement. The low-back rocker was a hit with Danish designers, copied by Hans Wenger and Børge Mogensen, and Japanese American designer George Nakashima built his slim Conoid bench from a live-edge vertical slab of a tree trunk with spindle-back arches, reminiscent of a long Shaker meeting bench.

A cherry board low table by McCombe Thompson.

Andrew Jacobs

One unique aspect of their furniture design is that the Shakers created many of the

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