Shaker style could be considered plain, but when you take a look at it, it's ingenious. the way the Shakers use light and
function is amazing. And to take a closer look at it Meghan Carter of http://www.AsktheDecorator.com visited Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill in Kentucky.
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Meghan: Shaker Style could be considered plain but if you take a closer look it is ingenious, the way that they used light and function is incredible and to see it for myself I am here at Shaker Village in Kentucky.
I am hitting the road, searching for answers and finding great design, it is a quest of beauty, function and of course inspiration.
Walking into Shaker home is much different than walking into a stately mansion. Yes, Shaker homes are big they were made to house a Shaker family which range from 40 to 80 or more people. But despite their size Shaker home just same well plain. But that is because the beauty of a Shaker home does not scream at you like decorative moldings. It is a set of beauty that you only see when looking at a few details and notice the one that are missing.
You see every thing in Shaker home was based on function as Susan Hughes, the Interpretation and Education Manager at Shaker Village of Pleasant hill explained to me.
Susan: The Shakers were not using simplicity just for simplicity sake but it was a way of expressing their way of worshipping. A chair is beautiful because it functions well. And so you pair away all the unnecessary decorative items and get back to the simplicity.
Meghan: the importance of function can be seen in Shaker architecture, if you are to travel to different Shaker communities across the country all of the architecture would be different. In the South, the Shaker designer homes to stay cool.
Susan: So you have large windows, high ceilings, big arches and trans on over the windows and the buildings here are sided so that the front of the building is to the South and that means that large banks of windows from East to the West to bring through those breezes.
Meghan: Cross ventilation.
Susan: Cross ventilation, when I was in New Hampshire the New England communities have more cold days than hot days so most of their buildings were built on a rather compact footprint usually square or rectangular. And the ceilings were about this tall, they are very short—the doors are very short and that is so they can conserve heat.
Meghan: In addition of planning for the weather, the Shakers installed windows on inside walls to borrow light from other rooms which reduce the need for candle light. In fact, the Shakers planned for light so well, the center family dwelling at Shaker village is being studied.
Susan: We have—actually a classically trained architect who is studying the effect of light in this building even on a dim daylight there are just incredible light.
Meghan: Other than light, the Shakers also tried to maximize space.
Susan: Staircases take it up off a lot of space in the building but they have to have staircases because this is a multi storey building. Things they took a lot of care to make the most efficient use of that space. The spiral staircase that we will see in a little bit is a very efficient use of tight space and yet it is very beautifully done.
Meghan: While function played a huge role in the way the Shakers designer homes, order was another important factor.
Susan: If there were two key concepts that I will talk about the Shakers they woud be union and order. Union meaning, everybody singing from the same line on the hymnbook. Order meaning neatness. I think that comes back to their communalism, they are living a communal lifestyle. If you are living in a room with three to five people you cannot have your own stuff cluttered all over the place. So you pick up and you keep things picked up.
Meghan: Otherwise, they get mad and kick you out.
Meghan: A part of the Shakers strong belief and order came from their leader’s passion for cleanliness.
Susan: Ann Lee is not necessarily their founder but their early charismatic leader. And a lot of things were attributed to her a lot of sayings such as “The place for everything and everything in its place.” Her name was Ann Lee and she did tells the believers to be clean and that is one thing that was really remarkably different for the Shakers that was for their contemporaries in the 19th