Amish furniture comes from traditions that began in the 18th century, when Jakob Ammon left Christian traditions and started a system based on his last name, “Am-ish”. These settlements try to live independent of technology and outside help. They do not use electricity and embrace a life of devotion to hard work and quality in all they do. This is reflected in the furniture they produce.
Origins of the Major Amish Furniture Styles
Development of Amish furniture started in the 18th century with the Jonestown School, known for painted chests decorated with flowers that became the Shaker Style. Another important school, the Soap Hollow School, favored brightly painted red, gold or black furniture in the 19th century that became the Queen Anne Style. Henry Lapp is credited with creating the third, Mission Style, in the 1920s. There are also several combinations and offshoots of these main styles.
All authentic Amish furniture is made to high standards with hand-sawn wood and matched wood grains for beauty. Each piece is unique and can be made of different hardwoods to order. These craftsmen never use nails but instead employ glue and hand-made joints for durability. Finally, the furniture is finished by hand with sanding, and paint or varnish for a long life. Materials and techniques used by the Amish have been classified as green technology.
1. Mission Style
The Mission (Arts and Crafts) Style was a design rejecting mass production styles of the early 20th century. Designers sought functional, real wood with Southwestern style elements. Characteristics include undecorated, clean lines, metal drawer pulls and the trademark slats. Much of this style uses varieties of oak with stain finishes and visible, angular carpentry.
2. Shaker Style
The Shakers were a late 18th-century group with life practices similar to the Amish. Their furniture rejects ornamentation as pride and embraces simplicity. Minimalist design and straight lines characterize this look. Early Shaker furniture could be painted in primary colors, but later designs are mainly stained for a stark, simple beauty. There are sometimes slightly scrolled elements.
3. Queen Anne Style
The most visible differentiating element of the Queen Anne Style is the curved or cabriole legs and scrolled posts. These give the furniture a sense of elegance and ornateness. Lines of furniture are still clean, but some angled or simple embellishments can occur.
4. Other Derivative Styles
Several legitimate derivative styles can blend the three main styles. Rustic or Beachfront Styles use paints of varied colors and weathering; Cottage/Country elements may be combined with Shaker or Mission Styles; and the Quaker Style typically adds turned elements with clean lines. Most traditional Amish craftsmen tend to specialize in one or two styles.
Quality and Craftsmanship to Last
Knowing something about the styles of quality Amish furniture can help make you certain your choices are well-informed. If you choose Amish Oak in Texas, you can be sure that your new furniture piece was made by craftsmen who use hardwoods, hand sawing techniques, glued joins, and hand-matched wood grains. Most authentic Amish makers specialize in Mission, Shaker or Queen Anne styles, and our stores work with a variety of builders to suit any preference. We can coordinate with them to create a furniture treasure to enhance your home in the Amish style you choose.
Looking for the perfect Amish furniture to stylishly furnish your home? Visit Amish Oak in Texas at either of our New Braunfels or San Antonio furniture showrooms to view a wide selection of fine Amish furniture.