Selling Shaker: The Commodification of Shaker Design in the Twentieth Century

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Liverpool University Press, 2007 - Design - 404 pages
The simple yet striking lines of Shaker design grace much of the furniture we see in high-end department stores, and beautiful examples of it adorn the pages of Architectural Digest and House Beautiful. How did this style evolve from its origins in a humble, small religious community to the international design phenomenon it is today? This illustrated study explores the emergence of the Shaker style and how it was vigorously promoted by scholars and artists into the prominence it now enjoys.

The heart of the Shaker style lies in the religious movement founded in the eighteenth century, where Stephen Bowe and Peter Richmond begin their chronicle. From there, the authors chart the evolution of the style into the twentieth century—particularly in the hands of design media, scholars, and art institutions. These Shaker “agents” repositioned Shaker style continuously—from local vernacular to high culture and then popular culture. Drawing on a rich array of sources, including museum catalogs, contemporary design magazines, and scholarly writings, Selling Shaker illustrates in detail how the Shaker style entered the general design consciousness and how the original aesthetic was gradually diluted into a generic style for a mass audience.

A wholly original and fascinating study of American design and consumption, Selling Shaker is a unique resource for collectors, scholars, and anyone interested in the cultural history of a design aesthetic.

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Simple and Pure The Early Promotion of Shaker Design in the United States of America
Forms and Forces The Penetration of Shaker Design into Museum and Popular Cultures
Spirit and Function The Infiltration of Shaker Design into Museum and Popular Cultures
West and East The Movement of Shaker Design into Museum and Popular Cultures from the West to the East

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About the author (2007)

Stephen Bowe is a lecturer at the Liverpool School of Art and Design. Peter Richmond lectures on architectural design and history at the University of Liverpool and is the author of Marketing Modernisms: The Architecture and Influences of Charles Reilly.

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