British Furniture and Design


The history of British design centers on the tension between ornamentation and simplicity, handcraft and mass-production. In the 17th century, the Jacobean and Restoration styles embraced embellishment, featuring elegantly carved hardwood, swirling motifs, and opulent materials such as gold and mother of pearl. The Georgian Era, which roughly lasted from 1714 to 1820, rejected this Baroque extravagance, looking to the stately motifs of Ancient Greece for inspiration. The Aesthetic Movement of the 1860s promoted the beauty of decorative forms, while the Arts and Crafts Movement decades later encouraged simple, handcrafted furniture designs stripped of ornamentation. Representing a wide variety of styles and time periods, leading British designers include the Georgian polymath William Kent, the textile designer William Morris, the retailer Liberty & Co., and the Modernist Robin Day, as well as contemporary talents such as Zaha Hadid, Ron Arad, and Max Lamb.

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