Cabinet-making and upholstering were important manufacturing trades during the second half of the 18th century, notable for their lavish exploration of Neoclassical and Rococo styles. Perhaps the most eminent among the host of cabinet-makers active at this time was Thomas Chippendale, who published his book of influential designs, The Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker’s Director, in 1754. This publication proved highly successful and influenced high-class tastes in furniture for many years. Several other trade directories followed, such as that featuring this four-poster bed design published in the late 1780s, though it was Chippendale’s own designs that remained the most highly prized.
Chippendale set up his permanent premises in St Martin’s Lane in 1755, from where he was able to service the aristocratic and wealthy residents of the expanding west end. Though remembered largely now for his furniture designs, Chippendale worked principally as an interior designer during his lifetime, advising the owners of country houses and town mansions on furniture, drapery and decoration.
- Article by:
- Matthew White
- The middle classes
With increasing variety in clothes, food and household items, shopping became an important cultural activity in the 18th century. Dr Matthew White describes buying and selling during the period, and explains the connection between many luxury goods and slave plantations in South America and the Caribbean.