Sunday, June 05, 2011
How to Make Furniture
The W. K. Cowan Furniture Company of Chicago, Illinois was in business from the years 1894 to 1916. William Kennett Cowan (no relation, or at least none this side of the year 1660) was known for the quality of his product. In the 1898 catalog, he set forth his philosophy, to-wit:
To govern production by excellence rather than expense;
to prefer simplicity;
to make use serve beauty and beauty usefulness;
to believe in goodness, abhor sham, make surroundings contribute to Life;
in short to conserve, even in the midst of commercial stress and strife, those eternal verities which make for advanced living;
these things are a part of the Ideal and the Working Plan of this Company.
Here was a man who obviously saw his trade in life as a noble calling. The furniture he created was intended to "make surroundings contribute to Life." I found it a bit jarring to read this and realize how antiquated such sentiments would seem to many today. I suspect most businessmen would laugh at a business plan that set out to "conserve...eternal verities." And that is to our shame.