The History of Chinese Cabinets

August 31, 2016 3 min read

Post Date: 9/01/2016

Gingko has a commitment to making quality, handmade furniture. As a part of this tradition, we embrace a devotion to masterfully crafted and reliable cabinetry. Cabinet making has a long tradition stemming from both European cabinetmakers and Chinese Cabinetry. At Gingko, we embrace influences from both cultures into the design and make of our custom made cabinets.

History of Furniture in China

The rich and unique, Chinese aesthetic in furniture has an ancient history. Chinese design was able to develop apart from the furniture designs of the West, which is one of the reasons its unique look is so sought after today. The introduction of furniture into the common household, however, did not happen until the time of the Ming Dynasty. During this time, bans that had before been placed on trade were lifted, leading to a flourishing in the availability of furniture. Though once business and meals were shared at the floor level, along with the dawn of the Ming Dynasty, the Chinese were now able to embrace the use of furniture in their day-to-day lives.

As certain technologies made creating furniture out of hardwoods possible, the Chinese were as eager as Europeans to add luxury cabinets to their homes.

The Chinese cabinet.

Because closets were not common in China, the Chinese looked for other, smart ways to store their clothing and possessions. They turned to the cabinet as a valid means by which to organise their clothing and possessions. Unlike European cabinets, however, the Chinese never hung clothes vertically in the fashion of an armoire, but instead stacked them horizontally along rungs and shelves in the cabinet space.

It was precisely thanks to its beauty and versatility that the Chinese adopted the widespread use of the cabinet. Thus the cabinet was incorporated into Chinese society–infusing unique, Chinese design into the horizons of cabinet making –the very style and design which is imbued in the modern cabinets made by Gingko today.

Though cabinets were originally indispensable because of the Chinese need for storage, over time designs and innovations made it possible to use the cabinet for many different purposes. Some of these increasingly versatile designs included the Chinese medicine cabinet, small side cabinets with pointedly, Chinese design, and drawing/writing cabinets.

Cabinets in Great Britain

Though cabinets might have been introduced to Europe first, cabinetry did not become popular until the industrial revolution in Great Britain. Because of this, mass produced furniture made the cabinet affordable for the common man.

Though the cabinet finds its roots in the mass production of Great Britain, our furniture at Gingko is decidedly made in the fashion of Scandinavian design, with our simple lines and choice materials, combined with the thick horizontal lines of the Mission Style movement.

Cabinets and Us

Cabinets have a rich history that span both East and West. They have been used and enjoyed by people and societies since the rise of hardwood as the choice building supplement for furniture. And though the East and the West may have developed their own, unique cabinet making styles, when their influences are combined, the result is a furniture that spans both time and space. By infusing the best of European and Chinese design into our cabinets, along with our commitment to hand making each piece using old world techniques, Gingko Home Furnishings delivers something that is truly “one of a kind.”