Furniture Design Reference: Diagrams of 18th Century Furniture Broken Down Into Its Components

Before the internet, we had encyclopedias. One of the oldest is France’s Encyclop├ędie from the 18th Century, where editors Denis Diderot and Jean le Rond d’Alembert gamely tried to cram the world’s knowledge into a comprehensive series of volumes. But the funny thing about French people is that they tend to write in French, so for years the University of Michigan has been translating this massive work into English and posting entries on their website as they become available.

The 18th Century was a bit before the time of industrial designers, but we sifted through the Encyclop├ędie to find the closest related field and came up with furniture design. Within the Menuisier en meubles ("Art of the cabinetmaker") entry are some twenty plates cataloguing the various parts of fine furniture of the era. Detailed descriptions are nonexistent, but we get to see the components, the joinery, the templates, the weaving patterns of the wicker and even how some of the parts are meant to be cut from the timber:

Plate I: Art of the Cabinet Maker, Seats
Plate II: Art of the Cabinet Maker, Seats and Benches. [Conversion of timber sections from a beechwood plank, together with assembly details.]
Plate III: Art of the Cabinet Maker, Seats. [Constructional and decorative details of different types of ornamental legs.]
Plate IV: Art of the Cabinet Maker, Chairs. [Chair construction.]
Plate V: Art of the Cabinet Maker, Armchairs
Plate VI: Art of the Cabinet Maker, Armchairs and easy chairs
Plate VII: Art of the Cabinet Maker, Easy chair and smal couch.
Plate VIII: Art of the Cabinet Maker, Couch
Plate IX: Art of the Cabinet Maker, Sofa
Plate X: Art of the Cabinet Maker, Duchesse [day-bed or reclining sofa].
Plate XI: Furniture Carpenter Veilleuse [day-bed or reclining sofa].
Plate XII: Art of the Cabinet Maker, Day-bed or reclining sofa [with a circular frame].
Plate XIII: Art of the Cabinet Maker, Sideboard [with cabinet].
Plate XIV: Art of the Cabinet Maker, Wardrobe.
Plate XV: Art of the Cabinet Maker, Polish Bed
Plate XVI: Art of the Cabinet Maker, French Bed
Plate XVII: Art of the Cabinet Maker, Italian Bed
Plate XVIII: Art of the Cabinet Maker, Templates
Plate XIX: Art of the Cabinet Maker, Templates
Plate XX: Art of the Cabinet Maker, Templates

Thanks to the University of Michigan for undertaking this project, and keeping it Creative Commons!


via Core77
Furniture Design Reference: Diagrams of 18th Century Furniture Broken Down Into Its Components