Image: Abu Camp Image: Abu Camp

Campaign furniture is mostly associated with the 19th century, when it was used by British officers who would transport furniture to and from battlefields. The main design feature that sets campaign furniture apart from other wooden pieces is that the parts can be broken down for easy transpiration, an ingenious attribute that has inspired many modern designers.

Before we check out how these wonderful designs inspired creative minds of the 20th century, let's take a look at the roots of campaign furniture. Made mostly in Britain and Ireland, the production of these pieces also stretched to the British colonies and also to China and Europe - thanks to Britons passing through their ports.

Officers of the British Army were the foremost users of campaign furniture, with many purchasing the commissions they had marched with during campaigns. As the British Empire expanded in the 19th and 20th centuries so did the British Army, so production of campaign furniture was in full swing. From 1714-1901, from the Georgian to Victorian periods, this type of high quality portable furniture was used by all officers under the British rule.

Chests, known as military of campaign chests, were the most common piece of campaign furniture made. These pieces could be broken down in to two sections and had removable feet. Brass corners and strap work give campaign furniture their distinctive look.

19th century mahogany Campaign Chest/ Cabinet standing on four turned feet, the chest of typical campaign form, in two pieces, the matching cabinet top a third piece with applied carved moulding, with scrolling an Acanthus leaf decoration, the cabinet opening to reveal one shelf, the whole with brass side carrying handles and the chest with recessed brass handles. H 182cm x W 110cm 19th century mahogany Campaign Chest/ Cabinet standing on four turned feet, the chest of typical campaign form, in two pieces, the matching cabinet top a third piece with applied carved moulding, with scrolling an Acanthus leaf decoration, the cabinet opening to reveal one shelf, the whole with brass side carrying handles and the chest with recessed brass handles. H 182cm x W 110cm

Coming to auction this month at Criterion, is an example of a 19th century mahogany campaign chest. One of the most famous campaign chests is the eponymous Wellington Chest, named after the 1st Duke of Wellington.

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As campaign furniture needed to be dismantled efficiently, it paved the way for designers of the 20th century to be inventive with furniture. Design icons of the 20th century find their roots in campaign furniture. For example, in 1933, Danish designer Kaare Klint, inspired by the Roorkhee chair which was designed by 19th century British Army Engineers stationed in the Indian town of the same name, created the Safari Chair.

Discover more campaign furniture here. Criterion's Country House sale on 26th September, 2017, will feature the campaign chest included in this article. Check out the full catalogue here.

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