Lee Stanton Blog

The Rise and Fall of Industrial Furniture

Finding their way into our homes, industrial furnitures have become statement pieces because of their strength in form and function. However, have you ever thought of where they came from and why they are in our homes instead of the factories and workshops where they were originally used?

 

Metal postmasters desk (AX7)

The workshops where the blacksmith, woodworker or glassblower painstakingly created objects by hand have given way to assembly lines with automated equipment. The interesting workbenches, handsome metal chairs, and unusual cabinets for specific tools in these workshops are more coveted today than the works of art these cratsment created. Unfortunately, most people today don't appreciate hand forged, hand carved and blown glass objects. As a result, these workshops have closed and the contents sold for us to enjoy in our homes.

When I travel to Italy, Belgium and France I can't help but notice the abandoned factories. Mills in Italy that produced beautiful silk fabrics, factories in Belgium that produced wonderful Belgium Linens, potteries in France what produced fine pottery and porcelains all closed and abandoned because of less expensive imports from the far east.

 

Photo: Atlas Obscura

These grand and beautiful structures made of brick and stone with metal windows, now abandoned and left with broken panes, were built in the prosperous days of the evolving industrial revolution. Again, the pride in the products these craftsmen produces is exemplified by the contents of the factories in which they were created. As I mentioned, these were prosperous times and the furnishings in these factories were often beautifully designed by the likes of MacKintosh, Le Corbusier, Perriand, Eames, Magistretti, and Jacobson. Today, these sleek and strong architectural objects now adorn our homes with a renewed purpose.

 

Photo: Atlas Obscura

As we put these handsome pieces in our homes, let us remember that the strength of their form represents the strength in their former functional life. Let us appreciate the cultural and economic history they represent. After all, the availability and rise in popularity of these industrial pieces in their second lives today are the result of the decline of the purpose for which they were originally intended.  


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