Customer Reviews: The Encyclopedia of Furniture: Third Edition - Completely Revised
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on June 8, 2000
THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF FURNITURE is more like a dictionary of design terms with pictures of specific furniture pieces. It gives a brief history of the furniture periods, but it will not aide you in learning about the characteristics of the pieces in each style. It is a good choice if you are looking for a quick reference guide with pictures and definitions.
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on February 22, 2010
This book is just what I was looking for: Illustrated descriptions of styles and terms used for furniture. If you want to know what terms like "cabriole" mean (for which you really need illustrations), this is probably the right book for you. I say "probably" because The Encyclopedia of Furniture was originally published in 1938 and the current edition was revised almost 50 years ago. Given that most of the material is historical, that's not as bad as it sounds

The Encyclopedia of Furniture would benefit greatly from the better editorial and production values that computerized compilation methods have made possible. (Unfortunately, most publishers--reflecting the ownership of many by huge multinational media corporations--are more interested in how fast they can publish than whether the material is comprehensive or even factually correct.)

Following are examples of the kinds of problems that could be eliminated with some editorial direction and modern production techniques (which will also give you an idea of what's covered by The Encyclopedia of Furniture):

--The criteria for deciding what or who deserves an entry aren't clear. For example, an entry appears for William Morris but none for Breuer or Thonet. And does James Gillingham (an 18th century Phila. furniture maker whose name isn't identified with a chair or any other piece of furniture) warrant more space than either of these?
--It appears that only photographic plates are numbered, but line drawings don't always appear adjacent to the text they illustrate. Because there are 1800+ illustrations, this can create confusion. For example, to what do the unlabeled line drawings numbered a-e at the top of col. 1, p. 389 refer (none of the text appearing on pages 388-389 appears to reference these).
--The illustrations don't always appear with the most appropriate entry. For example, there's no illustration for KNEEHOLE but illustrations of kneehole desks appear under both DESK and ENGLAND.
--The means of illustration are also sometimes inappropriate. PERIOD FURNITURE (p. 336) is illustrated by a hand-drawn timeline whereas it should have been typeset---or perhaps the timeline (which certainly deserves space in this encyclopedia) belongs someplace else.
--In some places (e.g., the heavily illustrated ENGLAND section) the illustrations sometimes don't even fit the printed page (they just kind of slide off the end).
--INTAGLIO (p. 262) references illustration 32, which is a Queen Anne armchair. Does this mean that the three-toed DRAKE FOOT of the chair leg is an example of intaglio? The entry is vague, and so is the illustration.
--Running heads and folios are essential but are sometimes missing just where they are needed most (e.g., the lengthy ENGLAND section).

This great reference is most deserving of an extensive, up-to-date revision.
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on August 22, 2007
This is a great visual encyclopedia for learning what parts of furniture and styles from different periods look like. When reading about a reproduction Greek klismos chair with sabre legs or a Louis XV commode with Sevres plaque and riband trim, there is nothing like a visual reference to understand what those words actually mean. Not a light read, but this is an important addition to the bookshelf of anyone really serious about being educated in elements of interior design.
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on April 8, 2013
Says "covering every period and development.." but doesn't give consistant examples. Say, you're looking for a Baroque chair, you might find some Baroque furniture under the article Baroque, and some chairs under the article Chair, but you might not find any baroque chairs. When I got this book, I thought I could use it to do some period research but it was very difficult to find what I wanted, if at all, and it wasn't what I was hoping for and expecting unfortunately.
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on March 19, 2011
Aronson's ENCYCLOPEDIA OF FURNITURE is a must have if you do not know every detail of every style in every period of furniture development. It defines terms and shows sketches and photos of many of them. It has good summaries of each term. Organized by terms and presented in alphabetical order, if you don't find the information under one term, it will send you to the term where you can find information instead. Used in my History of Furniture class, I highly recommend it paired with Crochet's DESIGNER'S GUIDE TO FURNITURE STYLES, 2nd Edition. Together, you will have everything you need to know about the history of furniture.
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on November 15, 2009
I cannot stress enough how fabulous this book is - it really is Must-Have Resource book for ALL Design Libraries. Having studied the applied arts/ craft arts & design this book is a great reference guide and something I use to check on original & replica styles from furniture suppliers, especially for historical aspects to help further inform clients on their choices/ placement & ultimately purchases. If you love furniture, design or are in both - then this is a great addition to your resources.
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on January 17, 2015
the cover is different on my book, but its the same book. this is a very detailed book that has just thousands of wonderful black and white pictures of many, many types of furniture! and even a few sketches. it even has a section with pictures of different "cuts" of wood making different grains. a must have book if you are even slightly interested in the style and design of furniture!
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on July 28, 2016
I gave away this book as soon as I got it. It is more a dictionary than an encyclopaedia, it has a dreadful design and the information is badly organised. The photos look as if they had been copied and pasted from the Internet. The book is crowded and unappealing. I browsed some of the entries and are very general, and you might find similar info on the web. The only think good wast the price, but as I gave it away as soon as I got it, it turned out to be expensive.
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on September 22, 2014
At first I was a bit disappointed by the style of this encyclopedia. But then I realize all the info I wanted were there, I just have to find it and compound it myself.

Too bad the pictures are B&W. If there was a new color version I will buy it right away.
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on February 3, 2010
Incredible reference for different pieces of furniture and motifs ranging from the beginning of construction to present. Used it for my History of Furniture were very helpful examples and the accompanying captions and text were thorough.
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