Explain American Colonialism

Explain American Colonialism. Design expert Deborah Burnett explains American Colonialism as it relates to furniture design. During the same time as Queen Anne, we also have in America, the Colonial period....

During the same time as Queen Anne, we also have in America, the Colonial period. The people in the colonies are saying, "King George is our ruler but we live in these little huts over here and the majority of our light is filtered through a sheep skin (cloths that were hanging over the hole in the wall) and we only have five foot ceilings and the wealthier folks, they maybe have eight foot ceilings." So they made lower sturdier furniture and because they couldn't afford the carvings, those were left off.


People were looking for functionality and this is where the Windsor chair comes in. Some of the heavier pieces of furniture are very utilitarian. They are very four-square and we see for the first time an ergonomic design in the Windsor chair. If we look at the seat, it has a place for the buttocks to rest and the seat actually rolls back, so the upper hip is very comfortable. For color we see dark burgundy, rich navy blues, and hunter greens. We also have for the first time deep clear reds, deep golds, blue-based turquoise, and green-based aqua. This is because the people in the colonies were starting to experiment with using indigenous materials to make paint. Because it was still a very time consuming effort, they only painted the woodwork, so they painted their chair rails and fireplace boards and everything else was washed with white. They used buttermilk instead of linseed oil and in some cases with the reds they were actually using pig blood. Those colors are still vivid today because they were pigmented from colors of the earth and were fashioned with organic products.




At the same time, in England and Europe we have the Georgian period going on. We also have Louis the XIV, Louis XV, Louis the XVI going on in France. In England, we see clean lines, Chinese influence, and symmetry. In France we see gold and glitz and in America we see stoicism, functionality, and the beginnings of ergonomics.

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