History Of Furniture: Adam Style

When a twenty-six year old Robert Adam left his home in Scotland in 1754 for his Grand Tour of the continent, he actually spent nearly five years studying architecture under Charles-Louis Clérisseau and Giovanni Battista Piranesi. When he returned home to take over the family business from his architect father, he along with his brother John ushered in a style boom that is known as Adam Style.

The Adam brothers advocated an integrated style for architecture and interiors, with walls, ceilings, fireplaces, furniture, fixtures, fittings and carpets all being designed by the Adams as a single uniform scheme. And while the Neoclassical style was already very much in vogue at the time, this was mainly seen in architecture and the envelopes of buildings. Robert and John Adam brought the principles of Neoclassical architecture and design into a residential setting, taking into consideration all of the interiors of a home. Classical Roman decorative motifs, such as framed medallions, vases, urns and tripods, arabesque vine scrolls, sphinxes, griffins, and dancing nymphs, pilasters, painted ornaments, such as swags and ribbons, and complex pastel colour schemes are all hallmarks of the Adam style, which moved away from the strict mathematical proportions previously found in Georgian rooms, and introduced curved walls and domes, decorated with elaborate plasterwork and striking mixed color schemes using newly affordable paints in pea green, sky blue, lemon, lilac, bright pink, and red-brown terracotta. These colors mimicked the fresco colors one sees on the walls of the famous ruins of places such as Pompeii. One of the most famous Adam rooms is the Etruscan dressing room at Osterley Park.

The Adam Brothers introduced a striking idea of mirroring a ceiling design with a floor or rug design below. Take for example this image of the Music Room at Harewood House, with its circular ceiling design reflected in the rug pattern beneath.

Or this Tapestry Room at Croome House.

Aside from designing rugs, Robert Adam also designed many furniture pieces in this same style direction. He is known for shield and round back chairs in particular...

Happy designing!