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The Shakers
1803 - 1961

The Shakers transformed vernacular models into standardized, mass –produced furniture. As such, the work of the Shakers is one of the earliest examples of modern, standardized production. Purity and simplicity of form was not an end-in-itself but the indirect result of their commitment to produce only functional items of the highest quality devoid of all that was useless and vain. The Shakers were known for their rejection of marriage and their elimination of the institution of the nuclear family in favour of a celebate communistic community of men and women. This radical style was not the result of a morbid sense of guilt or sin. Rather, it was based on the absolute conviction that the present world had literally no future since the Kingdom of God had arrived throught the Second Coming of Christ in the person of Anne Lee, a masculine-feminine Deity who in founding the Shakers had called all men to spiritual renewal through celibacy, Christian communism and separation from the world. Unlike the medievals the Shakers did not look upon the end of the world as a day of terrible judgement and punishment but as an event of joy in which the Kingdom of God would be brought to completion. Hence, the austere simplicity of their furniture and rooms reflect a happy and comfortable atmosphere.