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A Classic Interior Design Trend’s Big Comeback

Shaker furniture earns a spot in the modern home

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Mention the Shakers and modern probably isn’t the first word that springs to mind, but if ever there was evidence that trends are cyclical, it’s in the revival of the 19th-century furniture style. This spring, in a booth at the European Fine Art Fair, François Laffanour—director of the Paris-based Laffanour-Galerie Downtown—re-created a series of Shaker interiors to showcase the “origins of modern design.” As Los Angeles design expert Oliver M. Furth says, “This type of furniture has been decidedly out of fashion for so long that when we see it now, it feels ‘new’ again. . . . Its guiding principles are simplicity, utility and honesty. It’s a precursor to the minimalism of the 1960s and the resurgence of the craft movement of recent years.”

Indeed, from a double rocking settee to an original meetinghouse bench, the Shaker aesthetic is comfortable in a room with contemporary counterparts. But more than that, there’s something tactile and communal about the designs. “We spend our waking hours typing or holding a device,” Furth says. “Humans are thirsty for furniture made by someone’s two hands.” 

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