When you’re buying a chair, you’re not buying the same chairs your direct ancestors bought, and you’re not even doing it in the same fashion. As history changes, so does the furniture.

But why should you care about that? Well, you’re not supposed to anyway, but understanding the history of furniture is always a good entry point for buying better furniture, and being smarter about your living space.

Our Designer of the Week series is inspired by the relevance of manufacturing practices and our passion for getting people interested on the furniture, instead of just buying it because it looks pretty.

The Eames Lounge chair with ottoman, created by Charles and Ray Eames, is more than just a piece of furniture. Given its origin, it has become a cultural icon of American modernism. Even the MoMA recognizes this.

If that doesn’t convince you to keep reading (even though you’re already here), then just imagine yourself describing your beautiful furniture to friends and family, and leaving them completely in awe with your recently acquired knowledge about that new lounge chair and ottoman combo you got last year.

Culture influences furniture (but sometimes, it’s the other way around)

The Ancient Civilizations of our world did not have the same needs or expectations as the modern civilizations of our world. Alternatively, our contemporary globalized society does not have the same needs and expectations as those modern civilizations from previous centuries.

What has changed? And more importantly, how does it relate to the furniture we buy? Think about how Japanese people still use futons and smaller types of furniture: that’s just a part of their culture and they feel more comfortable with that. What do you think is most comfortable for you?

Chinese people, for example, seem to prefer lacquered finishes and favor bright colors like red and yellow, while Japanese people choose to deviate from these tones and usually prefer white, grays, and more neutral kinds of color in furniture.

A traditional Japanese bedroom setting, however, will indeed favor much darker color tones like walnut woods, and it will also favor lacquered wood pieces, which are a very important part of their tradition in craftsmanship. There is also a big distinction between traditional culture and modern culture, which is more global.

Sometimes furniture developments tend to influence the particular culture of a given society: as new items and styles flourish, people become interested by them and they start to apply them in their particular ways to create new styles.

Technological advancements such as computers and flat screen TVs created much of our contemporary living room furniture, giving birth to items like entertainment centers, which have become a staple of many houses throughout America and the world.

These technologies also change the ways in which we go about our day, which is why sectional sofas with sleek modern finishes, comfortable lounge chairs like the La-Z-Boy, and other furniture pieces also started to become common items for households.

Interestingly enough, entertainment centers are now beginning to disappear, for example, as younger generations watch less TV and become more involved with streaming services, gaming, and other leisure activities that now require a different kind of furniture.

Interior design is constantly defined by the times

Since every culture has come up with their own distinctive ways of making furniture, choosing a particular style from a particular culture is currently more of an aesthetic choice now than a functional choice.

However, if you examine your own needs closely you’ll find that certain styles from every continent will be better for you than those found in your own particular culture. Nowadays, we can all try and access these styles, and doing so will always be favorable.

Our gorgeous Freja bedroom set. The marriage of Asian and European influences.

At Manhattan Home Design, we wish we could be a little more global with our furniture, but we cherish the cultures that have given us the furniture items we’re currently selling.

Scandinavian culture plays a huge role in our catalog, as well as Germany’s European modernist tradition. Our décor items draw heavily from Asian influences, as do certain items like the Freja bedroom set.

We’re always trying to update ourselves in order to be flexible and offer you a lot of options for your particular space. You should be thankful that we’re all living in this day and age. What a wonder!