Greene & Greene-inspired Storage Chest


Classic design elements combine to create a new design.
By David Mathias
Pages: 36-41

From the April 2008 issue #168
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Seven years ago I made my first piece of Greene & Greene-style furniture, a coffee table of my own design. It contained several elements the Greenes commonly used: cloudlifts and ebony pegs. As with many pieces inspired by their designs, it is somehow lacking.

While their design elements are easily appropriated, there is something more elusivein using them to create a cohesive whole. Slapping on cloudlifts and ebony pegs doesn’t automatically create inspired, or even good design. There is no substitute for experience – aiming high and sometimes falling short, as with my coffee table. This piece is farther along the evolutionary scale, due in part to furniture maker Darrell Peart, who helped me work through several details.

Charles and Henry Greene established an architectural practice in 1893. Early in the 20th century, a personal style began to emerge. Inspired by Arts & Crafts designs, their work took on the clean lines and exposed joinery of that movement. Charles, in particular, was also influenced by Japanese architecture and Chinese furniture, and these elements began to appear in the Greenes’ work.

The final piece of the puzzle came from a warm climate and casual California sensibility.The Greenes melded these disparate influences into a unique style.

By 1904, they began to create furniture and decorative arts for their commissions and soon were designing nearly every item in the home. Houses and furniture shared a common vocabulary, one that evolved at an amazing rate between 1905 and 1909. The Greenes’ symbiotic relationship with builders Peter and John Hall resulted in some of America’s most remarkable residences and furniture.

Online Extras

* To download additional text and step photos detailing the construction of the hinges, leather strap and ebony pegs for the Greene & Greene-inspired Storage Chest in PDF format, click here.

* To download PDF drawings of the sunburst stiles and bottom panel for the Storage Chest: click here.


From the April 2008 issue #168
Buy this issue now