A bit of Shaker history

We are called Shaker Doors. As you can probably guess, our biggest inspirations have come from the designs of 19th century American furniture makers belonging to the Shaker movement.

So what exactly is Shaker design? For over two hundred years, Shaker design furniture has been prized for its elegant simplicity and exceptional craftsmanship. Its simple yet clean-lines have fascinated generations. There are a lot of Shaker furniture fans out there and at auction original pieces can fetch huge sums. Oprah Winfrey is said to be a fan and in 1991 she bought an 1830s Shaker work counter for $220,000, which was (at that time) the highest price paid at auction for Shaker furniture. (She may be one of the reasons that prices have been rising ever since!)

In contrast to the current extravagant price tags, The Shakers were actually a humble religious sect founded in England in the late 1700s. They believed in common ownership of property and communal living. They emigrated to America and practiced manual skills like carpentry and they became expert craftsmen in furniture making. Their way of life was reflected in their simple and modern approach to design.

“Whatever is fashioned, let it be plain and simple and for the good” and “Beauty rests on utility” were the famous maxims that underpinned their designs. Shaker furniture was renowned primarily for its quality, and given that every piece was hand made, they really are impressive works.

Technology has advanced considerably since the days of the Shakers and nowadays we are able to produce work much more quickly and at very affordable prices, yet still maintain the high standards and quality of the original Shakers’ work.

If you would like to see original Shaker furniture and early 18th c. colonial style furniture, the American Museum over at Bath has some fine examples of the original Shaker designs.