It’s been awhile since I featured a design style post. I LOVE writing these posts~ sharing wonderful information, historical backgrounds and above all gorgeous, inspirational eye candy. My goal is to hopefully feature more posts of this nature in the future. As always it is just a matter of finding the time they take to assemble.
Campaign furniture has been in use by traveling armies all the way back to Julius Cesar. Napoleon loved it as well. But we can thank the British army for elevating it to a higher level. British officers often sought the comforts of home while fighting in distant lands such as India and Africa. Each piece of furniture was designed to assemble easily and to be taken apart at a moments notice. The result was lightweight furniture that was very durable, comfortable, lovely to look at and easy to pack.
“Line of March of a Bengal Regiment of Infantry in Scinde” 1843 ~ Lieutenant F. P. Layard
The classically styled pieces seem to work in most interiors.
Keep reading for more information and DIY examples and links.
Much of the early furniture was originally created by unknown cabinet makers. But by the mid 18th century the demand for such furniture was so great, due to so many people moving to the Colonies, that many prominent furniture makers such Chippendale and Sheraton, among others, created pieces that could be easily dismantled for storage.
In 1871 British officers created The Army & Navy Co-operative Society. Their intention was to supply “articles of domestic consumption and general use to its members at the lowest remunerative rates”. Furniture production was at the top of the list.
The furniture fell out of favor with the invention of the motor car which made distant travel quicker and thus ended the need to move military camps. True campaign furniture pieces are still easily found but, given their ongoing popularity, they’re quite expensive. Knock offs abound in thrift store and consignment shops.
The most common piece of campaign furniture is the campaign chest which is, in essence, a chest of drawers. It was generally made of mahogany or teak as such wood could withstand hot and humid climates. The brass corners, strapwork and easily identifiable handles were made to protect the piece and withstand harsh travel conditions.
They are truly versatile pieces and look fantastic when updated in jewel box colors.
Side tables are also très chic!
The second most iconic item would be the Campaign desk.
Basic black is never boring. The brass hardware POPS!
White is also quite welcome.
Other pieces included four poster or tent beds (a necessity to protect against malaria).
Dining tables featured hinges that could fold the table down to the size of a briefcase. Chairs could also be broken down.
Many of the chairs are easily distinguishable by their “X” crossed legs.
The Paragon or Roorkhee chair had a removable canvas seat.
It inspired the 1940’s well known Butterfly chair.
There were also sofa’s, washstands, game boards and wardrobes. I myself would love to get my hands on some of the cooking equipment.
Today you can find new campaign styled furniture at such stores as Restoration Hardware…
Urban Outfitters and World Market.
You can also DIY your own.
Campaign Inspired IKEA Rast Hack.
Love the hardware used on this made over piece.
Fellow Phoenician Jenny Komeda created a wonderful Campaign inspired kitchen island.
Very few books have actually been written about Campaign style. You can find a section in the 1971 offering “Colonial Furniture in New Zealand” by S. Northcote–Bade.
Another highly sought after book is “British Campaign Furniture: Elegance Under Canvas, 1749-1914” by Nicolas A. Brawer. If you ever see a copy in a used book store pounce on it as it is now out of print and generally sold in the $200 to $300 range.
Can you see yourself adding a bit of Campaign style to your home?