introduction to designpedia


The Language of American Style and Design is a glossary, an alphabetical list of terms or words found in or relating to a specific home furnishings style or design subject, text, or dialect, with explanations in a condensed dictionary format. We call this our Designpedia- the Language of American Styles and Design.

It is intended to be a living document by being kept current, updated and relevant. The initial list is only the beginning, written with the mission to trigger comments, suggestions, questions, and most of all, provide helpful information.

Different from most standard dictionary definitions, our definitions fall into two categories. The first based on current usage in context to the world of decorating and furniture design, as we know it here in America.   The second based on historical references or definitions from our historical root and accepted definitions found in most dictionaries.

Some of the terms are colloquial expressions, and others, descriptive terminology that has become part of our mainstream English language, used to describe furniture styles and other design related information commonly used within our furniture industry today.  You will notice many of the terms have either an old English historical reference of use or French. Neither is given the historical evolution of the elements of architectural and furniture styles in the original 13 colonies here in America. You will also notice some words have a Spanish, Italian, Scandinavian or Germany heritage.  Little Asian influences appeared directly from the Far East by immigrates until the 1800’ out West in the new California territory. However, we do see design and style influences in this country from English styles popularized during the colonial period of English furniture.

Because America is a true melting pot of people from all over the world, bringing with them their most prized possessions as they emigrated to the new world, the true AMERICAN style and therefore definitions are influenced primarily but not exclusively by the European heritage that influenced all forms of the decorative arts and design in the first five hundred years of what we think of as AMERICA DESIGN AND STYLE. But in reality, our American style and definitions are richly influenced and sprinkled generously with our heritage.

With emigration came memories of people’s homes and thus- their home furnishings, the terminology and the craftsmanship that became replicated or improved upon here in America.

But, as in all evolving cultures of nomadic people everywhere, with the moves came a blending of the old world with the new. In the case of home furnishings like furniture, textiles, and household goods, necessity to furnish without the aid of the tools or materials from their homeland, the evolution of certain styles morphed and chanced due to need and materials from the original designs of their ‘old country'.