The Shakers

04.04.10 § Leave a comment

While doing some spring cleaning I came across my bachelor project which was inspired by The Shakers. I remember now why I was so inspired by the philosophy of these people concerning things. I am very drawn to their sense of simplicity, craftsmanship and space.

The Shakers originate form a group of persecuted Protestants in France, who fled to England in 1706. In 1774 they emigrated to New York, where they bought land, and called it “The New world “. Here they lived together in villages where each “unit” was responsible for the production of goods for personal use and for trade with other Shaker villages and eventually also with “the world”. Ann Lee was a leading figure in the Shaker group. She was also known as Mother Ann, or just Mother. Equality, pacifism, absolution and common property were qualities valued high in the community. The Shakers were very concerned with harmony between the spiritual and the physical environment with which they surrounded themselves. Simplicity, cleanliness, order, industry and perfection were the means to achieve the goal. Mother Ann emphasized that all assets should be functional and modest, not trendy and grandiose. She believed that the extravagance of an object caused the heart to open up to pride, vanity and lust, and that it destroyed the natural material and the practical purpose of the object itself. “Anything with an precisely defined purpose, can be described as perfect because it answers perfectly to the purpose it was designed for.” When they built their houses, they were careful to plan for storage. This led to integrated storage in the walls. The storage was pre planned to fit their specific needs. Often there could be 3 to 6 people in one bedroom, and this created the need for separate storage. The storage was mostly made of drawers. Since there were so many people living together, it was important that all things had their permanent place, so that they would be easy to find for all residents. They had a great production of oval and round boxes for different things, which were color coded for content. They also made cleaning easier, by mounting pegs high on the wall in every room, where everything from chairs to hats and coats were hung. The beds had wheels, so they would be easy to move.

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