Author: Alan

The House of Wonders: A Designer’s Guide to the History of Furniture

The House of Wonders: A Designer’s Guide to the History of Furniture

This Designer’s ‘Historical and Significant’ Moment

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In January, as we moved into the new house, I asked my husband to give me a tour of the place. The first thing we saw was the dining room’s kitchen window, and my heart sank. I was seeing its first glimpse of our beautiful new house, which we’d move into in January. And then, there it was, my future home: the dining table from our first house, a table we use every day and the same table in my current home, in the same room. It struck me how the differences of a decade made the same table look unrecognizable from different eras, and how the details of the room could be so different for one house and another, yet still be the same table.

This was my first taste of the history of our furniture. I thought about the old houses that came before ours, and how each house in the neighborhood has had a different set of rooms, whether through the years or due to the owners’ tastes. I imagined other homes from the same neighborhood as my own, but with different décor. I imagined a house where there were walls of different materials, and how the colors and textures of a wall could be so much different from one house to the next.

This was my first taste of the furniture of my future home. I thought about the old houses that came before ours.

How can we, as lovers of our past and future, imagine different homes in the same neighborhood so that they can be so much different from one another? One designer I admire is Jonathan Adler, founder of the Fodor’s House of Wonders. For Adler, an object’s historical and significance can help people understand it, rather than simply buying it. What’s interesting to me is how his work might help us to discover other people’s homes. Adler asks each of his designers to describe their objects, as he does of the new owners of his house, and shares some of their thoughts in his book, The House of Wonders. One of these designers described her book for one of the houses that has been featured in the book:

When I saw you, I had two

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