Shaker Design

Out of this World

Jean Burks

View Inside Format: Cloth
Price: $75.00
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Out of Print

An exploration of 200 years of Shaker design and spirituality, with new attention to Shaker influence on contemporary design

Reaching an apogee of 6,000 members in the years just before the Civil War, the Shaker movement was the most extensive, enduring, and successful utopian society ever established in America. Leaving Manchester, England, in 1776 to avoid persecution, the Shakers crossed the Atlantic and during the next 50 years established 19 villages from Maine to Kentucky.

The Shakers were guided by the principles of utility, honesty, and order in both their work and worship, and this belief system influenced the physical expression of the goods they produced for use at home and for sale outside their communities. This lovely book presents a wide array of extraordinarily fine examples of Shaker furniture, household objects, textiles, religious drawings, and items made to sell to the “world’s people” (non-Shakers). The book’s expert contributors discuss Shaker design in relation to the furniture they constructed, the products they sold, their gift drawings and spirituality, and their rejection of American Fancy design. The book also considers the powerful inspiration Shaker design has provided for diverse modern and contemporary designers, including George Nakashima, Roy McMakin, Thomas Moser, and Scandinavian furniture makers.

Jean Burks is senior curator, Shelburne Museum. She is the author of three definitive books on Shaker furniture, including most recently The Shaker Furniture Handbook.


Bard Graduate Center for Studies in the Decorative Arts, Design, and Culture (March 13 – June 15, 2008)

"A substantial volume. . . . Comprising essays by seven distinguished scholars on Shaker life, design and spirituality, it considers the furniture and other objects they constructed, their gift drawings, and the influence they had on such later designers as Scandanavian modern furniture makers. It is illustrated with a profusion of prime examples demonstrating the wide range of fascinating objects by this extoraordinary sect."—Linda Rosenkrantz, Metropolitan News-Enterprise

Winner of the 2008 Honor Book Award sponsored by Historic New England.
ISBN: 9780300137286
Publication Date: May 26, 2008
Publishing Partner: Published in association with the Bard Graduate Center for Studies in the Decorative Arts, Design, and Culture
320 pages, 9 1/2 x 11
12 b/w + 180 color illus.