An example of rationalism and functionalism in furniture design. Driven by rigorous religious beliefs of purity and equality, the Shakers predated Sullivan’s motto
“Form follows function”.
The Shakers, or Shaking Quakers, were firm believers in cleanliness, functionality and celibacy. Their products exhibit these values through essential shapes, honest use of materials and decorative restraint. They created furniture for themselves and for sale, becoming very successful in selling their chairs and wooden boxes.
A typical feature of Shaker environments is the peg board, a lath that runs around the walls, at a height suitable for hanging objects, with wooden pegs at regular intervals. Not only were objects like sconces, shelves and cupboards hung from the peg boards but furniture items like chairs would also be hung temporarily while cleaning the rooms.
This system allowed for maximum versatility and adaptability of the environments, as items could be moved to any peg along the board, making new furniture arrangements extremely easy.
The Shakers are basically gone now as a people, due to the fact that they practiced celibacy, but their furniture is still being made today.