Furniture for Losers


In our competitive society, the winners get to name the things. This is true with battles, large social movements and even furniture styles.

I think there is value in trying to think of these issues from the perspective of others – the losers, if you will. When growing up in Arkansas, some teachers taught us about the Civil War. Others taught us about the War of Northern Aggression.

If you think divergent taxonomy couldn’t apply to furniture, I disagree. About 15 years ago I worked with a guy who studied Kentucky Style furniture. When I suggested that the pieces looked like Western Shaker furniture with some simple inlay, he became testy.

“The Shakers,” he said, “were a weird religious cult and shouldn’t be remembered or celebrated. It’s cult furniture.”

Ouch. But it made me think.

So while on a walk this morning I devised alternative names for popular historical furniture styles. I know that some sensitive readers will think this list is political. It’s not. Trying to see things from another person’s perspective is an intellectually honest way of examining your own beliefs.

See if you can recognize your favorite furniture style in this list:

Colonizer Furniture
Fundamentalist Furniture
Mall Stall Furniture
Zealot Furniture
Farmer Furniture
Industrialist furniture
Hopeless Idealist Furniture
Slave Owner Furniture
Poverty Furniture
Royal Excess Furniture
Marketing Department Furniture
Historical Revisionist Furniture
War Furniture
Table Saw Furniture
Patronage Furniture
Desperation Furniture
Social Climber Furniture
Price Point Furniture

These are probably not good book titles. (Though I’d buy the books. Peter Follansbee said this about my library: “It looks like you buy any book with the word ‘furniture’ in the title.”)

— Christopher Schwarz

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Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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33 Responses to Furniture for Losers

  1. Nice. A few additions:

    Crackpot Furniture
    Obdurate Furniture
    Incommodious Furniture
    Swanky McChic Furniture
    Obtuse Furniture
    Offal Furniture

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Joe says:

    This could start a whole new antitaxon movement;
    Temp Tweeter in Charge vs. President
    Lifetime RFO’s (Run-for-Office) vs. Congress
    Ok, reaching. And probably too close to (anti)political to post.
    As bad as revisionism is, the worst form is erasure of parts/people of history that are now deemed unseemly.


  3. “The Shakers,” he said, “were a weird religious cult and shouldn’t be remembered or celebrated. It’s cult furniture.”
    I have heard this before and, by more than one high end New England early american furniture dealer. It kinda pisses me off as a collector because it writes off the many contributions the Shakers made in American furniture.
    1. The only 100% purely American designed furniture is, that’s right, Shaker! We “borrowed” all our early furniture designs from Europe.
    2. A Shaker Sister has a claim ( among a few others) of inventing the circular saw.
    3. If you look at sales of Shaker furniture at Willis Henry, (leading shaker auction house), you will find that although early american furniture is in a depression state in terms of prices, that is NOT the case with period Shaker furniture, far from it.
    I could go on, thing is, there is A LOT of snobbery in the Arts world, always has been, probably always will be.
    As Joseph Downs (then Director of the MET) infamously said at the first Antique Furniture forum at Williamsburg in 1947 , “nothing south of Baltimore is worthy of collecting”.


  4. nrhiller says:

    Forgive the caps, but I CANNOT TELL YOU HOW MUCH I LOVE THIS!!! Heart emoji fistbump emoji sunflower emoji

    Liked by 1 person

  5. rivenjoiner says:

    What is the difference between farmer and poverty furniture?


  6. British choices for naming furniture styles always interested me more than the US. Some chose the ruling monarch for the name, while others went with the era’s major architect/furniture designer/marketing genius. I find it slightly more flexible.

    It always amused me a little to prod the late Nick Kotula. He got really worked up by terms such as Chippendale furniture. “There’s no such thing as Chippendale! It’s Late Baroque!!!”


  7. John J., Bloomington IN says:

    The guy wasn’t necessarily wrong about the Shakers.


  8. Tom Bittner says:

    I err….. gave away my table saw furniture, It refuses to die or go away. I should have burned it all, I’m presented with my “handy work” from time to time usually with the exclamation of you made that! I should have made the new owners sign a non disclosure agreement.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Ross Henton says:

    Trendy Antiquery Furniture. Biscuit (joiner) furniture.
    All in the style known as ‘Chiropractor Modern’.

    The Garage Woodshop

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Madeleine says:

    The Hamilton-Burr loveseat
    The Benedict Arnold coat stand
    The Bobby Riggs demi-lune table
    The Guy Fawkes bombé chest
    The Louis XVI chopping block

    Liked by 1 person

  11. josef1henri says:

    Funny. My mother thought Catholics were a cult. Everybody’s got an opinion. Reminds me of the saying that “words are like unto the dung of cattle, and if thou fling a sufficiency thereof at the side of a barn doth not a goodly portion stick?”.


  12. Colorado Cowboy says:

    Is this an attempt at 5 tpi comedy?


  13. Gerald says:

    From the Young Adult Collection: Dorm-crate furniture, College Front Porch furniture & Newlywed furniture
    From the Poor White Trash Collection: Trailer Park Plush furniture; Curbside Salvage furniture &
    Meth-house Modern furniture
    From the Millennial Collection: iCRAPKEA; Crap In Barrel & Pot Barn.


  14. Gerald says:

    “The Shakers,” he said, “were a weird religious cult and shouldn’t be remembered or celebrated. It’s cult furniture.”

    And the Nazis were…well…Nazis, but that didn’t stop anyone from buying Volkswagens and BMWs.


  15. Bob Barnett says:

    OMG I love this one!!!! The comments even make it better. Thanks for making my day.


  16. JohnGonz says:

    You are a funny man. Thanks for the good laugh to start the day.


  17. Harry says:

    Good piece! Though I do take small umbrage with being called a “hopeless idealist”… 😊


  18. William says:

    The Australian Jimmy Possum chairs are often called Tasmanian Chippendale.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. ctdahle says:

    Are you going to publish the “match the term in column a to the definition in column b” worksheet, or do us lesser mortals have to do the reading assignment to earn our grade?


  20. I’d prefer to call War Furniture “Hingy Furniture”

    Liked by 1 person

  21. benjamin foucaud says:

    Oh my ! Got them all ! Brilliant !!!!!


  22. Western Infidels says:

    Given sufficient passage of time, almost all of it becomes “desperation furniture” for someone at some point. And I would know. I have a bunch of that.


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