These GIFs Take You Through the History of Furniture

published Sep 11, 2018
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(Image credit: Liz Calka)

Kids are back at school, so how about a history lesson for the rest of us? Don’t worry, this class is all interior decorating and GIFs and there will be no homework. I mean, unless you’re into that sort of thing and you know what? You do you.

The folks over at online directory of local service providers Angie’s List joined forces with Neomam Studios to provide both an educational and inspirational look at the evolution of furniture—from ancient Egyptian chairs to more contemporary dining room sets, and everything in between. And they’re all in GIF form because, hey, we’re visual learners. Welcome to The History of Furniture 101.

(Image credit: Neomam/Angie’s List)


According to Angie’s List, furniture was a luxury only enjoyed by the wealthiest of Ancient Egyptian society—which explains why the illustration here showcases such an ornate piece. For something on the opposite end, the article points to the Bauhaus style. Bauhaus was a German art school that ran from 1919 to 1933 and is known for simplicity and functionality. One of the most famous pieces to come out of the movement is the Cantilever chair, seen in the GIF above. Personally though, the pink Art Deco chair is calling my name.

(Image credit: Neomam/Angie’s List)

Dining sets

For another juxtaposition of design styles, look no further than Rococo vs. Minimalism. To put it in today’s terms, the Rococo style is extra AF. All about elaborate carvings and asymmetry, Rococo was popular roughly from 1730 to 1770. Meanwhile, the Minimalism movement—which is pretty self-explanatory: clean lines, plain surfaces, few materials—popped up in the 1960s New York art world as a response to more elaborate styles, like Art Deco, that came before it. Even just looking at the GIFs, the aesthetic was clearly influenced by the aforementioned Bauhaus movement.

(Image credit: Neomam/Angie’s List)


The Victorian and the Art Nouveau examples offered here are drool-worthy (seriously, my kingdom for a hot pink Victorian sofa), but it’s the Ancient Greeks who really knew what they were doing with their sofas. In Ancient Greece, couches were known as “klines” and they were “primarily used for reclining while eating.” The first couch potatoes!

(Image credit: Neomam/Angie’s List)


Are you sitting at one right now while reading this? Is it made from natural materials? Does it have smooth, rounded forms? Your desk may be inspired by the Organic Design movement. This design style was brought to prominence by Frank Lloyd Wright in the 1930s and was all about a balance between manmade and natural elements. Think about that the next time you pop a little succulent on your work space.

(Image credit: Neomam/Angie’s List)


The final piece of furniture Angie’s List takes us through is the bed. So many canopies! Take their example of a quintessential Renaissance bed. The movement came out of Italy and was “heavily influenced by classical antiquities.” Italy continued to grow wealthier, and by the time the 15th century rolled around, people demanded higher-quality and more intricately designed furniture to rest their weary heads upon; The Renaissance movement took hold of furniture design.

A Renaissance bed would look a little out of place in most apartments these days, but perhaps you can do what the 15th century Italians did and draw inspiration from the past to create something new. Which design movement do you most gravitate toward today?