by Lynn Byrne
Furniture revivals, perhaps undeservingly, often have a negative connotation. Some folks recall with distaste the overblown styles of Renaissance Revival, Rococo Revival and Gothicl Revival furniture that appeared during the late Victorian period. Then there is at the rife amount of Duncan Phyfe look-alikes which muddy the waters for some who are trying to purchase a true federal period antique. These pieces, now known as Centennial furniture, first surfaced to celebrate our nation’s centennial anniversary which occurred around the same time as the Victorian Revivals.
A tour around the aisles at this year’s Architectural Digest Home Show indicates that we are in the midst of a new period of revivals. Handcrafted furniture in the Biedermeier, Art Nouveau, Art Deco, and even Victorian style were all on display.
Woodworker Virginia Blanchard, who happens to hail from my town of Pelham, showed a striking Art Nouveau screen, complete with whiplash curve decoration. (If you need a refresher course on furniture from the Art Nouveau period, head over to this Design Dictionary).
Virginia also showed this gorgeous jewelry box with inlays and a stepping detail characteristic of the Art Deco period.
A visit to Virginia’s website unearthed more stunning Art Deco revival pieces like the vanity and stool seen above. Look closely at the roofline of this building from the Art Deco period found in the Bronx, NY for an example of Art Deco stepping and see how it directly relates to Virginia’s stool.
There’s more. Take the furniture created by Gaisbauer They have been in business in Austria since 1888, about 40 years after the end of the original Biedermeier period. Their furniture bears all of the hallmarks of the period, including a sculptural form sometimes framed by architectural elements, highly polished lighter woods, veneers used to create bold pattern such as a sunburst and references to the Empire period which include ebonized columns and gilt ornaments in classical motifs. Gaisbauer uses high quality woods like walnut, cherry and birds eye maple. You can have their furniture handcrafted in 6-8 weeks.
Compare Gaisbauer’s stuff to the real deal. What do you think?? Awfully close.
Coming full circle, I even spotted a large, tufted chair that had a whiff of Victoriana at Victoria and Son’s booth. It would be perfectly at home in a Victorian-style parlor.
Would you incorporate these revival pieces into your home? Designer friends–please do tell me what you think of this trend. I am most curious.