Campaign furniture, as implied by its name, is portable furniture that was designed for use in military campaigns. Its origins can be traced back to the Romans, but its use peaked during the Georgian and Victorian periods (1714-1901). Designed to be easily transported during military operations, campaign furniture included folding seats, small chests, and case furniture that could be dismantled and carried with ease. Often, it was built in separate parts so as to be more mobile, and the pieces were made of durable woods like mahogany and teak.
British officers of high social position did not want to compromise the quality of life and comfort to which they were accustomed in England, so function and form were thought to perfectly mesh in campaign furniture. The iconic recessed brass handles and brass angle pieces served an aesthetic function and allowed the furniture to be easily transported with no damage to fragile corners. Elegant, strong, and practical (well, as practical as carting around solid-wood furniture could be), campaign furniture was key to style and comfort while away from England.
Nowadays, owners and designers may not value the pieces for their inherent portability, but it should be noted that even in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, theses pieces were appreciated for their simple elegance and beauty. They popped up in lavish manor homes and London flats just as often as they were hauled through India and Egypt. What was born of necessity was quickly adopted for its style, and these solid, classic pieces have retained much of that same aesthetic allure.
1. The popularity of campaign furniture has never entirely died out, but lately there has been a resurgence in interest in these pieces, and more specifically, in campaign-style chests and dressers. They have graced the pages of Lonny Magazine, High Gloss Magazine, and House and Home in recent months.
3. What's more, the campaign dresser is no longer an item only for bedroom use. Kelly Wearstler has used them in an elegant black and white bathroom. Photo by Grey Crawford, via Picture of Elegance.
4. Additionally, campaign-influenced cabinets have been making frequent appearances in the kitchen of late, as in Bill Ingram's cottage kitchen, which was featured in the July/August issue of House Beautiful.
5. For those who love the look but cannot afford the antique pieces, Naomi from Design Manifest has created a budget version using the ubiquitous Ikea Rast dresser and campaign hardware. It may lack the recessed drawer pulls, but it does not lack any of the style.
Images: 1. Lonny Magazine