Finding Inspiration in the Shaker Design Principles

Images courtesy of: Pinterest, Borastapeter 

‘Don’t make something unless it is both necessary and useful; but if it is both necessary and useful, don’t hesitate to make it beautiful’ - Shaker philosophy.

We’ve long been inspired by the Shaker design philosophy. The Shaker design principles are guided by simplicity, honesty and utility. Their strong beliefs are reflected in the strength and simplicity of their design: simply made furniture that favours essentialism. The Shakers valued quality materials, craftsmanship, restrain and balance. If you study their furniture design, you’ll recognise a love of the bare necessities. They say goodbye to the decorative and superfluous and craft products true to their purpose and vision: necessary, useful and beautiful.

While our aesthetic may differ, we too value these design principles and hold them close to heart at Plyroom. Our furniture design is grounded in simplicity, flexibility and quality. Our use of plywood and custom joinery that forgoes metalwork reflects the Shaker ethos, adding depth to design through flexible arrangements and allowing for a sense of honesty, purity and proportion. We embrace versatility and functionality, ensuring always that our designs work within the spaces they are intended for. Through all of this, we reflect a minimalist aesthetic where beauty shines through simplicity, something the Shakers believed in too.
The Shakers taught us that great design must first fulfil its function. What is a chair if it cannot be sat upon? They taught us that simplicity is an exercise in creativity and innovation. It is much harder to create something simple in process and outcome than otherwise. Only the best design shines through. They taught us the value in trade and craftsmanship. Things made by hand, by passion and love, will always trump those made carelessly or by machines.

Images sourced from Pinterest

These principles are, more than ever, relevant in today’s cluttered and digital driven world. Getting back to basics, stripping away the ornamental to make way for the things we truly love, this is how the Shaker design principles can guide us in our everyday lives.

You can find out more about the Shaker movement in Masterpieces of Shaker Furniture by Edward Deming Andrews. You’ll also find pieces of Shaker furniture and design in museums and galleries across the world. The Metropolitan Museum of Art in the US offers one of the largest collections of Shaker items.

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