THE AMERICAN WEST: INFLUENCE ON DESIGN
When the term “Western furniture” is used, it generally is in relation to the “West” of the United States.
This “West” can be broken into separate regions, such as the mid west, the rocky mountains, north and south, the south west, the pacific north west and Spanish California, etc. Western design certainly is connected to the settling of the American west. Connected by the early explorers and trailblazers, starting with mountain men and pioneering settlers, the confrontation between the native Americans, and a land hungry westward expansion. Land being divided and fenced by farmers and ranchers. These ranchers using vast spreads of land for the grazing of cattle necessitated the placing of crude “bunk” houses for their “Cowboy’s” use. These cowboy’s out of ingenuity would build crude tables and chairs, or stools for use in these bunk houses.
In the mix of all this, certain pioneers involved in the settling of the west became famous. Names like Jim Bridger, Kit Carson, Buffalo Bill, Wild Bill Hickok, Wyatt Earp. Some names became infamous, Jesse James, Billy the Kid, Butch Cassidy and the Sun Dance Kid. Indians also like Sitting Bull, Red Cloud, Crazy Horse and Geronimo. This time in history was during the 1800’s.
With the industrial revolution in the early 1900’s and transportation transforming from the use of horses, into the use of trains, automobiles and even aircraft, a whole lifestyle was transformed with it. The family ranch and farm became less and less important, and less desirable as people began to relocate in the cities. Life in the frontier was hard and inconvenient. The population for the most part was in the eastern part of the country. As life in the cities became more and more hectic and busy, the populace took solace by visiting areas away from the metropolis in the form of camps and resorts. The Adirondacks becoming a very popular getaway area, especially for the wealthier ones. This lent to the development of rustic furniture building which is known as Adirondack style. As the depression years of the 1930’s progressed people were forced to relinquish their family farms and ranches to the lenders, or sell at lower than real values.
Many wealthy easterners saw a real opportunity in the buying of prime western ranch land and the building of modern facilities to make their visits comfortable. Stemming from a romantic love of the “Old West”, thanks in part to “Hollywood Westerns”, the “Dude Ranch” era was born.Most of these dude ranches were located in the rocky mountains area, Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana, with the Blackhills of South Dakota not being excluded. It was during this time period that Thomas Molesworth, building western furniture in Cody, Wyoming, found his nich with the owners of these early dude ranches. They hired Molesworth to decorate and design their places of retreat, recognizing that Molesworth had an eye for western design like no one else. Using a blend of cowboy bunk house and Adirondack, Molesworth combined burled pine, leather, wool chimayo, brass tacks, antlers and Native American artifacts to come up with a distinctly unique American western style.
Of course there is much more to western design than this alone, and it is the blending of all the different regions of the west that makes true western design so unique and enduring. Western design has an incredible interest and appeal around the world. Western design, most certainly is an icon of the American west.
There is no better way to experience and enjoy this iconic history and style, than Western Designed pieces of furniture. When a client commissions me for a project, a certain mission is involved. That of PRESERVING real American Western Design. It is my goal that every piece I build, accomplishes this PRESERVING of the American West. Because, FURNITURE IS ART.