Anyone looking to get a new kitchen or even some new kitchen furniture will have come across the term shaker or shaker style. While this term and style is very popular and has been for some years the fact of the matter is, many people have never given the origin of the term a thought let alone something about it. The background to the Shaker style is actually very interesting and the style itself makes a lot more sense once the history is explained.
The term Shaker Style is used to describe a wide range of interior items such as shaker style bar stools, shaker style kitchens and more but what is shaker style and who were the shakers?
The united society of believers
This was the official name of the Shakers. However, the full name was actually The United Society for Belief in the Second Coming of Christ. The organization itself was a larger and better known Quaker breakaway group. At the end of the 18th century the Shakers moved away from the Quaker religion of which they were a part to create this new group. Despite being something generally associated with America Shakers actually started in England and then moved to settle in colonial America.
The term Shaker actually came from the longer name “shaking Quakers”. This happened because of their body movements during worship. They were shaking and moving ecstatically during the services which earned them the nickname Shakers. These movements were often associated with their perceived messages directly from God through services and meditation. The name, however, stuck and was how they referred to themselves in the end as well.
Despite the time period the Shakers were actually quite progressive. They were very keen on gender equality and women had leadership roles as early as 1747. They also believe in a communal lifestyle and pacifism. As well as these forward thinking ideas the Shekeks were also deeply religious in a more traditional sense and worked under the belief that the end of the world was near and all sins must be renounced.
From Jesus to kitchen furniture
So where do kitchen furniture and cabinets fit in? Well among their many specific ways of life and beliefs the Shakers were very keen to be self-sufficient. They were great craftsmen and made everything from food to furniture. But there is a key ethos behind this creativity that leads us to the definition of the “shaker style”. They believe that manufacturing should be honest and avoid any kind of deception. So much so that they actually thought that processes like wood veneer were against their religion. They felt that honesty in the creation and appearance of the furniture was very important. They became well known for making reliable, durable and high quality furniture as a result and it was this production method that led to the Shaker style we know today.
At that time many American furniture makers were using imported woods such as mahogany and rosewood. This was not good for the Shakers who chose to use local woods such as cherry, pine and maple. They also avoided any detailed decoration which again became a strong part of the overall Shaker style. Paint the furniture using natural colors as well. One really key factor in the Shaker style is the choice of wooden doorknobs on cupboard doors and the like. This happened because they refused to use imported brass like many makers.
The shaker style
The Shaker style itself continues to this day. The simple clean lines, the wooden handles and the subtle decoration are all key to this an ever popular choice for chairs and kitchens. The difference these days is that many of these items are mixed with other styles now and much of the pure Shaker tradition is lost. Veneer finished kitchen cabinets are common place as well as additions such as glass fronts for cupboards. It is also fair to say that the original Shakers may not have approved of combining a Shaker kitchen cabinet with modern gadgets such as flat screen televisions and wireless phone chargers. That being said, the style lives on and many furniture makers still create items very close to what was originally made. The idea of simple and high quality furniture is something that will never go astray.
While many may feel that the beliefs and methods of worship that the Shakers now use are very strange, there is no denying that they have led to a dedication to quality and honesty that many people appreciate when they spend a lot. money on household items. There is also much to be said for their treatment of women and approach to violence!
Ade Holder is a professional copywriter specializing in a number of areas including interiors and interior design. He has been writing in this space for almost 10 years. He is currently working closely with content he creates in partnership with www.cheekychairs.com who create designer dining chairs and bar stools.