Charles and Henry Greene arrived in Pasadena in 1897, two brothers fresh out of MIT with plans to enter the building trade. They founded an architectural firm (Greene and Greene) which reached the zenith of its production within the first ten years of 20th century. Inspired by Japanese architecture and the British Arts & Crafts movement, the pair crafted homes, furnishings and textiles with a “new and native beauty” that would thrive in Southern California’s climate.
Favoring locally sourced materials, indulging their attention to detail and championing integrated design concepts, these two made one of the most significant contributions to the American Arts & Crafts catalog. Vermont Guild of Furniture Makers members work in a variety of styles and here we’ve collected a few exemplary pieces from makers who pay homage to the Craftsman style, and the Greene brothers in particular, for your browsing pleasure…
Greene and Greene Inspired four poster bed by Richard Bissell Fine Woodworking of Putney. Bissell has an abundance of fine Shaker works in his portfolio but in this piece he moved decidedly toward the Craftsman school. With meticulously constructed joinery and exacting but simple ornamentation, the bed is made from FSC cherry with a beautifully figured Birdseye Maple footboard. Its design is a favorite of the furniture maker for how well it shows off contrasting woods with a simple, natural finish. Of course, the frame bed can be customized to size and wood specifications.
Guild member Dan Mosheim and Dorset Custom Furniture designed and built a Greene & Greene inspired dining room for a client with a full complement of custom pieces. Dining table and eight chairs, sideboard, corner cupboard, mirror, lighting details. The cherry sideboard is prominent in the photo below with its distinctive, carefully crafted hinges and drawer pulls.
American Arts & Crafts promotes clean but stylized design and sound structure. The intentional exposure of carefully crafted joinery is meant to reinforce the beauty of handwork and to underscore the value of labor & process. Such is certainly the case with this piece where much time was spent on the ‘mechanical’ requirements. Dan’s son Sam (Sam Mosheim Metalwork) handcrafted the shaped long leaves and customized hinges. A popular entry on Dan’s blog describes the process of making the distinctive drawer pulls.
For a sparer space in the same home, a desk and chair that are just ornamental enough. This challenge, like the dining room, was a product of client-maker pow wow—discussion and drawings back and forth—ending in a design that was harmonious with the Craftsman theme.
For other Arts & Crafts and Mission-inspired fine furniture, click around our website. Share your favorite pieces with us! If you’re planning a trip or are local to the West Coast, you can visit the brothers’ Gamble House in Pasadena or the permanent Greene & Greene Exhibit at Huntington Library. Maybe you need a Craftsman piece designed to fit your home?! Do some research, contact one of our furniture makers. And if you head to California, send us a postcard!