Although the three piece suite has been in existence since the 18th century, essentially it is a 20th century phenomenon. Like many pieces of modern furniture, functionality was the key to its success and it emerged through a combination of factors. Cost and size was also an issue where the three piece suite fitted happily into smaller rooms, and were much cheaper to buy and less cumbersome than the heavy mahogany antique chairs of previous generations.
The Art Deco three piece suite’s massive popularity emerged through the storylines of the 1930s Hollywood film sets. Drawing room dramas and comedies created opportunities for film makers to dress sets lavishly. Famous actresses of the day would drape themselves over silk covered sofas or chairs, and the lifestyle that was being represented on screen had the effect of creating a ready mass market for the three piece suite.
During the Art Deco period, style gurus such as Stijl in Holland, Gropius and the Bauhaus group in Germany were creating designs that were cutting edge but also suited the functionality of the new era. Although initially these pieces were still only affordable by the wealthy elite, from the 1930s onwards manufacturers used adapted designs for a mass market. Expensive coverings such as leather were replaced by modern materials such as rexine which had a dramatic effect on the price. Although the three piece suite began as an expensive concept, it very quickly adapted itself to general living and has become the most popular piece of modern day furniture.
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