Oh, to have known about Shaker style when I had my own furniture design to build. The hundreds of small, complicated pieces, the excessive connection points and varying angles in my scheme were a far cry from the simple elegance of the Shaker approach and led me to anything but a religious experience.
The Shakers, or “Shaking Quakers,” were a group of radical English Quakers with a spirited worship style who came to America in the late 1770s to escape religious persecution. They were socially progressive for their time, believing in racial and sexual equality, pacifism, and common property. They were, however, celibate and had to recruit people from the outside world to prevent their communities from dying out, which explains why their population dwindled to just two modern-day Shakers living in Maine.
The principles of honesty, utility and simplicity guided the Shakers and manifested in their craftsmanship. They rejected ornamentation as it encouraged the sin of pride. Instead, the Shaker furniture makers played with form, proportions, and asymmetry to add visual interest. Though the Shaker communities were largely self-sufficient and closed off from the mainstream world, they did sell excess goods and furniture pieces beyond their community. Fortunately, the style and historical pieces have been preserved and even reinterpreted today. —Quelcy