Switzer 101

Our reproductions evoke the mood, manners, and craftsmanship of forgotten times and faraway places. When customized by imaginative designers and placed in contemporary spaces, these objects of beauty become reminders that time is circular, not linear. Past and present mingle playfully. To understand the life and times of each piece is to see history expressed through furniture design. Our work represents the finest examples of these periods.




Gothic furniture was influenced by Gothic architecture; the pointed arches seen on tall chairbacks were inspired by the dramatic cathedrals of the time. Much of the furniture was also embellished with ogee curves, deep moldings, and carving—often religious in theme, but sometimes featuring motifs from nature. Gargoyles were carved into bedposts to protect the sleepers from malevolent spirits. Woods were commonly dark: oak, walnut, mahogany, and rosewood.



The rise of the Bourgeoisie in 15th Century Italy resulted in a growing demand for quality furniture. Italian carvers became so renowned that craftsmen from all over Europe came to learn from them. Stucco and gilding featured prominently, and marriage coffers (hope chests) were often elaborately painted or carved with with cupids and foliage. Architectural profiles and decorative imagery were drawn from the mythology of ancient Greece and Rome.



This period originated in Rome, but quickly spread throughout most of Europe and has become commonly associated with the French monarchy and the courts of Louis XIII and XIV. Grand and opulent, with elaborate carving, scrolling, and gilding, it was embraced by the aristocracy and the Roman Catholic Church, as a way to demonstrate wealth and power.



This movement began in Paris as a reaction against the strict rules of the Baroque and the Palace of Versailles. Playful, witty, and elegant, it was influenced by the Regence years, which introduced curves, symmetry, and balance. During the reign of Louis XV, the style gave way to asymmetry and ornamentation inspired by nature.



Thomas Chippendale was a cabinetmaker, furniture designer, and all-around interior designer who advised clients on every detail, including paint colours. He published a book of his designs, The Gentleman and Cabinet Maker’s Director. Chippendale style is a refined Rococo for the English, incorporating Chinese and Medieval Gothic influences.



As restraint became popular in the mid 18th Century, the fanciful Rococo style was replaced with the simpler lines and symmetry of Neoclassical design. This style coincided with the onset of archeology and was inspired by the discovery of artifacts and ruins in ancient Rome and Ancient Greece. It evolved during what we call the Age of Enlightenment.



The Directoire period succeeded the tumultuous French Revolution. It adopted the simpler style from Louis XVI, ornamented with arrows, pikes, animals, and stylized palm leaves. Carving was minimal as inlays, marquetry, richly grained veneers, and decorative painting came into favour.



Empire style celebrated The Emperor Napoleon and the new French Empire under his rule. It was promoted as a style “of the people”—not of the aristocracy that Napoleon had abolished. Bronze gilding and ormolu were used frequently in furniture, which tended to be massive, solid, and heavy, inspired by the marble furniture of the Greco-Roman world.



Increasing industrialization and urbanization supported a rising middle class and a demand for good furniture. The resulting style featured clean rounded lines, minimal ornamentation, and an emphasis on function. The movement originated in Vienna but eventually spread, with Scandinavia and Italy developing their own versions.

Art Nouveau


Named for the Maison de l’Art Nouveau shop in Paris, this movement thrived until the beginning of World War I, and is considered important as a transitional period linking the 19th Century with the 20th Century’s Modernist style. Inspired by Japanese and Gothic design, it featured decorative floral motifs and curved lines flowing into whip-like forms.



This style is a dramatic contrast to everything that came before it. Rather than the use of organic elements, it embraced technology and was influenced by the popularity of the automobile and new aircraft—hence the clean, streamlined forms. New materials such as tubular steel, bent plywood, aluminum and plastics were featured.

Art Deco or Art Modern


The feminine tendrils and blossoms of Art Nouveau were replaced with sleek and sophisticated styling. Symmetry featured, with bold geometrical forms instead of flourishes, and modern materials like stainless steel, bakelite, chrome, and plastic in strong colours.

French Moderne


An avante-garde style that evolved from Art Deco, but focused on drafting unusual and arresting forms. The result was eccentric shapes with curvilinear profiles and a luxurious appearance. Popular woods were Brazilian mahogany as well as oak, walnut and pearwood. Steel, iron, and bronze also featured. Chairs had lean, continuous lines and high backs.