As both a commercial and domestic piece of furniture, the pedestal desk has retained its popularity and formalised shape for many years. For what would traditionally be regarded as a male piece of furniture from where estate business would be run, the pedestal desk actually originated from a very feminine piece. The kneehole dressing table was used by women in their boudoir during the early part of the 18th century. It had two sets of drawers either side and spaced in the middle to sit at, and typical of furniture of this earlier period was usually made of walnut. However the central space was usually far too small for comfort and the piece tended to be more decorative than anything else.
Enlarging the dressing table to become a desk therefore was really a stroke of genius where the two much larger pedestals were joined by a large desk top. The desk is much better known today in mahogany which was the cabinet makers wood of choice in the mid 18th century. Designers such as Chippendale popularised the desk through its inclusion in his Director and the desk was copied across the country by provincial furniture makers such as Robert Gillow through his Lancashire firm. Unlike Chippendale, Gillow stamped most of his furniture so it is easily attributable today.
Chippendale’s designs were heavily influenced by the Rococo but as the century progressed, satinwood was also used and construction became generally lighter in line with the fashion for neoclassical styling.
The substantial proportions of the pedestal desk and its versatility for both home and business meant it remained popular during the Victorian era and many were made. It remains popular today and period and revival pieces can be obtained. For good choices of antique desks, Lancashire dealers will be pleased to assist you to find the right piece.
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