Wednesday, September 3, 2008

British colonial furniture

Asian teak meets British touch

The British, who once explored and colonized many regions in the Far East, have left here a valuable heritage in furniture. Regions of South East Asia offer a rich supply of quality teak wood, supported by the abundant monsoon rains. The slow-growing teak tree produces a wood that is hard and durable, and so is the furniture made from it. The teak wood contains natural oils protecting it from extreme weather conditions and the wood itself is not difficult to work on. The early colonizers here made their homes, set up government and army offices. Their skilled carpenters produced for home use cabinets, coffers, tables, chairs; they also supplied bureaus with desks, escritoires, bookcases, davenports, chiffoniers - eventually any kind of furnishings - in order to equip the new premises to be serviceable and stylish at the same time. The unique combination of tropical wood, British style and smart designs
british colonial desk
makes British Colonial furniture practical and desirable even today.
The first colonizers reached Burma (Myanmar) as early as the 1820’s. The consequent time span of more than a century encompassed mainly two art styles which were reflected also in the colonial furnishings. The early colonization era furniture of the second half of the 1800's combines tropical motifs with the elegance of Victorian style - influenced by gothic. Usual was a darker finish and heavy, solid furniture with elaborate ornamentation. Furniture makers used teak, sometimes conjoined with mahogany and leather or cane inserts. After the first world war, the styles
british colonial bed of victorian style
became simplified and Art deco gained on popularity. Art deco rediscovers the beauty of simple geometric shapes. The look is sleek, less ornamented. Smooth lines, streamlined geometric shapes, rounded fronts, and use of mirrors and glass are the typical features of Art Deco furniture.
colonial art deco display cabinet
The Deco style was particularly popular in large sophisticated cities such as Singapore, Shanghai and Rangoon, Burma. During the time period between the wars, Rangoon became a major hub for Deco furniture production, having the access to the finest woods and local presence of an experienced coterie of woodworkers.
There is another kind of furniture, which was almost independent on the styles: Campaign furniture. This furniture was used mainly by soldiers and people who needed to be highly mobile. Thus, this furniture is very functional and allows easy transportation. Campaign items are usually folding, they have sliding windows and folding or removable legs.

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