The Studio yearbook of decorative art — 1919

Page: 75
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ON COTTAGE FURNITURE
IT is safe to assume that during the next twelve months the manufac-
turers will be producing furniture in vast quantities. What the quality
of the furniture will be depends on the acceptance, or otherwise, of
certain sound but forgotten principles. It will not be denied that old-
time cottage furniture possesses a charm quite apart from age ; it was
strongly made, and was fit for its purpose. The chests, settles, and gate-
leg tables must have given pleasure to the maker and joy—because of their
fitness—to the users. This cannot be said of the articles which have taken
their place. Instead of a bureau we find a cheap and ill-made chest of
drawers; whilst the gate-leg, or simpler oak table, has been supplanted by
one made of deal, with turned legs stained to look like mahogany or wal-
nut. It is not suggested that the old types should be reproduced, but it is
imperative that simple and dignified furniture, equally as fit for its pur-
pose, should be made for the thousands of cottages which are to be built
in the near future.
It is a splendid opportunity for the manufacturers. English furniture has
been improved by the study of old examples and by adapting them to
modern requirements and methods of production. A similar effort should
produce good cottage furniture. It must be reasonably cheap—that is, it
must cost less to produce than the more elaborate articles which are made
for town houses and mansions. Because it is cheaper it need not be ugly
or shoddy in construction. Cheapness is only a relative term, for a table
can be as well made in deal as in mahogany, and the question of cost is one
of material and finish. Good proportions and pleasant lines do not cost any
more, and often less, than bad ones. If the gate-leg table is not made for
cottage use now because of its costly construction, there is no reason why
the ordinary kitchen four-legged type should not be improved in design.
A tapered leg, with or without a chamfer, should be cheaper than a turned
one, and it is also easier to keep clean.
From all points of view it is highly desirable that people who are
directly interested should meet and discuss the question as to what are
essentials in cottagefurniture. Housing committees, architects, and manu-
facturers in the various districts might co-operate and come to some
definite conclusions, for the manufacturers are ready to accept practical
suggestions. Essentials should not be at all difficult to define, for every
one will agree that the furniture must be strong and well made. (This does
not mean that a kitchen or living-room table leg need be three inches
thick.) Then, as far as possible, the things should be easy to clean and
move. A dresser or a chest of drawers should be so made that the floor can
be cleaned underneath, and square angles and edges should be avoided as far
as can be. There must be a maximum of accommodation in drawers and
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