Rustic Furniture Past and Present

Camp Arden was established in the 1880's as a summer residence for the Carpenter family. Like other camps of it's kind in the Adirondacks, it had a guide/caretaker. During the cold months of winter, when the Carpenters were not in residence, the caretaker was asked to make furniture. Using natural materials in conjunction with conventional materials, he produced a wide variety of rustic furniture. Today many of these pieces still survive and are part of Camp Arden's extensive collection of rustic and period furniture.

The Adirondack region had a distinctive style, both in architecture and furniture. The rustic furniture was made from an sundry of materials indigenous to the region. Native woods were used such as yellow and white birch, black cherry, alder and red cedar. These woods were used in combinations to produce a unique art form. White birch bark was applied to surfaces, twigs and branches were applied to trim or inlaid to create mosaic patterns, even the stumps and roots were used to form pedestal bases for tables.

Rustic furniture is not unique to America, beautiful pieces were produced in France and England for centuries. Rustic furniture gained popularity in America during the Industrial Revolution in the mid-1800's. A time when low tech industrialization and accelerated living caused many to reevaluate their unhealthy lifestyles.

New interest was focused on asimpler lifestyles. New interest was focused on a simpler way of living. A desire to embrace the natural things of life. It was from this desire that rustic furniture gained its popularity throughout the United States. Each region of the country took on its own distinctive identity as dictated by the natural materials of its region. Rustic furniture created a charm and warmth all its own. It had a calming effect in a world full of chaos and disease. Rustic furniture was of particular interest to the wealthy. Many used this style of furniture to furnish their summer residencies, the Carpenter family was no exception. Rustic furniture was used throughout the camp. In conjunction with other styles of furniture, such as East Lake, Victorian, Arts and Crafts as well as Mission, that the carpenters used to furnish the various buildings. Rustic furniture was prevalent in vacation and resort areas and remained so until the early 1950's with the advent of plastic and aluminum furniture. Their durability and lack of maintenance made them the new furniture of choice. It was not until the 1970's that a resurgence of interest in rustic furniture once again surfaced. This time however, the focus was on the artistic and folk art qualities of these pieces. Interest among collectors continues to grow, rustic furniture has joined the status of high art and the prices paid by investors reflects this.

The same desire that motivated individuals at the turn of the century to embrace the simple and natural elements of rustic furniture is the same motivation that motivates people today. People are seeking a lifestyle that is closer to nature. The current retiring baby boomer generation is one segment of society wanting to furnish their second homes with the qualities that the rustic style furniture provides, a natural spiritual inspiration, charm, warmth, humor, creativity, as well as introducing a piece of the outdoors , indoors.

Camp Arden is also the home of Arden Creek, a company which specializes in the interior and exterior Adirondack style. Arden Creek Designs continues to carries on the camp's artistic tradition by designing and creating rustic furniture and related decorative products. Arden Creek Designs has been providing rustic furniture and related items to corporations, institutions, museums, government agencies as well as private collectors throughout the country