A Primer on Antique Furniture Part 5: Sheraton Furniture
The Sheraton style of antique reproduction furniture is attributed to none other than Thomas Sheraton, a trained cabinetmaker who took a liking to drawing and geometry at a young age and used those skills to develop one of the most influential furniture styles of the nineteenth century.
Born with humble beginnings in the town of Stockton-on-Tees in England, Sheraton made the most of the limited education he was given and used it to quickly develop an influential position as one of the top furniture designers of his time. In 1791, he published a book entitled The Cabinet-Maker and Upholsterer’s Drawing Book, a collection of critiques on current furniture styles and a detailed delineation of Sheraton’s own style. It also featured many examples of elements that were considered trademarks of his design and introduced his concepts to his contemporaries. The book catapulted Sheraton to the top of the furniture world.
Sheraton used all solid wood for his pieces – with mahogany, satinwood, sycamore and tulipwood dominating most of them – to create light, yet elegant work considered especially delicate in comparison to earlier styling. Much of his furniture was adorned with low-relief carvings or ornate painted designs that sharply contrasted the finish of the wood. His original pieces included motifs such as ribbons, feathers, flowers, or any variation of the three.
Sheraton was also quick to embrace foreign trends and impressions he received over the years and to incorporate those elements into his work. Whether it was concepts from nearby France or design elements from Chinese culture, Sheraton was always at the helm of innovation as a designer.
The Sheraton style encompasses strong, well-structured geometric shapes – usually either square or rectangular – that flow well into fabrics without noticeable disruption in design. Quality reproduction furniture pieces capture all of the same design features that made his work so popular to begin with and highlight just how elegant his work really was.