the piano’s place in design history

THE FORGOTTEN ELEMENT IN DESIGN

Because of its size and visibility, the piano is intended to be a core element of a room design – a central piece with its own distinct style that defines the room around it. Although it may be the largest and most visible piece in a room, the piano is often given the least amount of consideration when it comes to style, design, and color. While the smallest details like fixtures and accessories receive extensive consideration when planning the space around us, the piano is often perceived as having no unique style or identity of its own. Rather than being the focal core element to bring a room together as it was intended, many designers today approach the piano as an afterthought meant to blend into the background unnoticed. 

 

 

THE GOLDEN AGE OF FRANCE

– Louis XIV, Louis XV & Louis XVI Styles –

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THE PIANO IS THE CORE FOCAL POINT OF A ROOM.  THE STYLE, COLOR, AND DESIGN OF AN INSTRUMENT WILL DEFINE THE ROOM AROUND IT.

Though slow to change, it eventually became clear to piano manufacturers that they would need to offer period-specific style instruments in order to meet demand and remain competitive. The success of the furniture and textile industries eventually led piano manufacturers to offer special models in period-style cases like Louis XVI, Italianate, Chippendale, Georgian, Jacobean, Spanish Renaissance, etc. in addition to their standard traditional lines.

 

 

EARLY AMERICAN AND COLONIAL DESIGN

– Early American, Colonial & Duncan Phyfe –

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HOW IT WAS THEN: THE ARRIVAL OF THE NEW CENTURY

The Industrial Revolution of the late 19th and earl 20th Century was a time of lavish lifestyles, excessive luxury, and great prosperity. With the arrival of the new Century, a revival of classic and historically influenced design styles was gaining immense popularity worldwide. The renaissance in historically influenced design style prompted the building, furniture, and textile industries to include period-styled products in their offerings in order to meet the demand of the customer. 

 

 

THE JACOBEAN PERIOD

– Jacobean, William & Mary, Spanish Renaissance & Gothic –

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CUSTOM MADE, ONE-OF-A-KIND “ART CASE” PIANOS

 

More prominent manufactures specialized in creating custom, one-of-a-kind pianos on special order for wealthier clients in order to match their home’s decor. It was not uncommon for a wealthy client to visit a prominent piano factory, choose the instrument they preferred among all others, then had the factory commission specialized cabinet makers and artists to design and build a custom cabinet around the instrument they chose. This piano would have been picked out among all others for its fine tone quality, and then a small fortune spent to have the cabinet custom decorated to suit the client’s decor! The demand for specialized, custom-decorated instruments was so great that many manufacturers had a separate “Art Department” employing skilled artists and craftsmen full-time for the purpose of creating these beautiful works of art!

 

 

THE GEORGIAN PERIOD – ENGLISH FURNITURE RENAISSANCE

– Chippendale, Hepplewhite, Queen Anne, Sheraton & Adam –

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DESIGN COMES FULL CIRCLE: THE ARRIVAL OF THE 21st CENTURY

With the arrival of this new century and the age of the internet, we are once again seeing a trend moving toward the comfort and elegance of Classic and Traditional design, often with a modern twist. Our hectic, fast-paced lives find comfort in the spaces we create around ourselves; the ideal of “Hearth and Home” is more important today than ever before. As we come “full-circle” as a modern society, elements of style which were once valued are again becoming popular and mainstream.

 

 

THE ITALIAN RENAISSANCE PERIOD

– Italian Renaissance, Florentine, Tuscan & Venetian –

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TODAY’S REVIVAL OF TIMELESS, OLD WORLD DESIGN STYLE

 

Today, modern furniture and textile companies are expanding their lines of period-inspired products as the demand for Classic and Traditional style continues to grow. Some of today’s best-selling lines are rooted in centuries old design, while other best-sellers offer “distressed” and “faux-finished” pieces which are specially finished in order to make new furniture look old and worn! 

 

And, just like it was a century ago, piano manufacturers are once again slow to change their product lines in order to offer anything other than the sterile, generic black piano, making it difficult for both the client and the design professional to realize that there is an alternative.