The styles of furniture that were crafted during the Edwardian period of English history are commonly referred to as Edwardian furniture. Unlike many other historical periods that are associated with certain styles, the Edwardian era produced a very eclectic variety, and is not strictly tied to defining stylistic elements. In fact, Edwardian furniture is best known for being produced to resemble styles from other eras. Besides eclecticism, the most persistent characteristic of Edwardian furniture is a distinct revolt against the heavy, formal Victorian styles that preceded it.
King Edward VII, son of Queen Victoria, reigned in England from 1901 to 1910, and therefore this time period is referred to as the Edwardian period. Historically, this historical period is generally viewed as a more free-spirited departure from the dark, rigid, and restrictive Victorian era that characterized the times of the previous monarch. English culture began to shift into a much more mobile, multi-faceted, eclectic society; these attitude changes are reflected in the furniture designs of the Edwardian period.
While Victorian era furniture is dark, extremely ornate, and heavy, Edwardian furniture generally adopts a much lighter, less formidable aesthetic. Mahogany is a popular wood found in Edwardian styles, and lighter materials such as wicker and bamboo were also introduced during this period. A further extension of the characteristic stylistic lightness is noticeable in fabric choices; upholstery appears less frequently, and when it does, the fabrics are generally pale in color with delicate floral patterns.
Stylistic elements such as “light” and “eclectic” seem suspiciously vague, but this is because the Edwardian period was influenced by so many other styles that those are the few cohesive themes. While the majority of Edwardian furniture is distinctly more delicate and airy than Victorian furniture, this style also borrows heavily from the designs of other historical periods. One of the most popular influences associated with Edwardian furniture is art nouveau, but features of neoclassical, Georgian, and Tudor furniture are also evident, among others.
The Edwardian period, particularly in the case of furniture, was known for reviving formerly popular styles and mixing them together to create distinctly modern pieces that were still reminiscent of earlier designs. Revivalism and reproduction were two important features of furniture design during this period, and the pieces often combined stylistic elements from different countries and times. Eclecticism to this extent can make identifying Edwardian furniture difficult, as many of the pieces incorporate designs from other distinct historical periods.