The Origins of Modern Furniture

Before the 19th century, furniture design was often elaborate and ornate but not necessarily functional. The often complex design came first in importance, and woods were often dark and fabrics expensive. The value of the furniture was determined by how long it took an artisan to make it. The advent of modern design provided more economical methods of constructing furniture, along with new, more flexible materials. Furniture became “lighter” in more than one sense. The emphasis shifted from furniture as a piece of art to furniture as a functional and accessible belonging. Modern furniture changed the focus from traditional to new, original and practical with an eye toward the future. Modern furniture design evolved out of a number of different influences, including the Werkbund and Bauhaus Schools, exotic designs from foreign countries, Art Nouveau and the designers and artists of the period. Modern furniture changed the whole idea of focus by embracing the idea of the new and original, rather than the tried and true. It sought to embrace the present and the future, as well as the idea of free thinking, independence, and practicality, rather than the stuffy views of past.

Foreign influences, Asian and African design in particular, began to have a noticeable effect on modern furniture makers. Japanese design in particular held a great influence during this time period because when Japan’s economic policies changed toward the end of the 19th century, trade with Japan became much more commonplace. The Japanese styles featured designs that were simple but also elegant and beautiful. The Japanese furniture designers tended to use solid colors and very little decoration. Some of the Art Nouveau movement is said to have been heavily influenced by Japanese design principles. People like Frank Lloyd Wright, Eileen Gray and Charles Rennie Macintosh are known for their ability to blend the Japanese style with the Art Deco.

In the 1930s, families gathered around the Motorola to hear serial comedy routines of radio personalities like Burns and Allen. By the 50s, the Motorola was replaced with a boxy black and white television that could tune in about half a dozen local stations. Today, families gather around the Entertainment Center.

Entertainment centers can be highly diverse and customized, but the modern entertainment center generally features a combination of audiovisual equipment, centered around a big-screen high-definition television. Though an entertainment center might include a TV with built-in speakers, most often, the TV connects to a stereo receiver featuring surround sound speakers. Next to the TV, the speaker system is one of the most important aspects of the entertainment center, greatly enhancing the experience of watching television or movies.

One of the key advantages of an entertainment center is the interfunctionality, which makes it very convenient to record movies, programs or music. Modern ports featured on TVs and receivers also allow portable digital equipment to interface with the entertainment center. For example, one might connect a camcorder to the television in order to view movies just taken. This allows the entire family to see and enjoy them comfortably, rather than sharing the tiny view screen on the device. A gamer might customize his or her entertainment center to incorporate X-Box capability or other gaming devices. An Internet connection can provide interactive online gaming in addition to personal gaming.

The term home Entertainment Center may also refer to the complete package – the electronic components and the unit in which they are housed. The Entertainment Center is often either an armoire or a self-contained unit; they often contain dedicated areas (either drawers or other spaces) for storage of records, CDs and/or DVDs. In many homes, an Entertainment Center is often placed in the living room, family room, recreation room, or bedroom. Perhaps the first example of a built-in entertainment center was created by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1917 at his Hollyhock House in Los Angeles, California.

As of spring 2006, one of the features to watch for is HDMI-enabled televisions, receivers and DVD players. HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) is digital technology that improves picture quality and sound while reducing the amount of cables required to connect equipment within your entertainment center. A single HDMI cable replaces all three cables needed for component video, and the two required for L/R audio, while providing superior performance. In the future, the desired feature will likely be wireless connectivity through UWB (Ultra Wideband) capability. This will eliminate all cables and make setting up an entertainment center extremely easy.

An entertainment center, sometimes called a home theater system, is a wonderful way to enjoy quality entertainment at home. Whether listening to Chopin, watching the latest horror flick with a bowl of popcorn, or entertaining guests, an entertainment center provides pleasure that you will likely find worth every penny, no matter the investment.