Mechanical Furniture

Riesener Mechanical Desk 1781

In 18th century France, furniture made for royalty and the aristocracy was extravagantly ornamented and outfitted with innovative mechanical functions. In the wake of the Enlightenment, a rising sense of the need for privacy resulted in objects which were made exclusively for the use of one person. Mechanical desks, for writing private correspondence, and harps and harpsichords, for developing individual skill, encapsulate the importance of the individual. These objects serve as reference points in examining the world of furniture use and making from this time.

 The Writing Desk, the Harp, and the Harpsichord

The furniture’s decorated exteriors and mechanical interiors reveal incredible innovation on the part of the ébénistes and mécaniciens.

Desk Variety

The large variety of writing desk models demonstrates their popularity and the development consumer culture, where the preferences of the consumer altered what was manufactured.

Louis Bellot harpsichord, 1742

Cousineau Père et Fils harp, early 19th century