The Renaissance was a cultural movement in Europe roughly from 14th to 17th century. It undertook in Italy, later spreading to the rest of the European countries. From a historic perspective, this period of time is defined as the rebirth or reconstruction of humanism. This includes the notion of cultural achievements for their own sake. Renaissance included the rebirth of all types of art including interior design and music.
The display of artistic freedom and individualism were a fundamental part of Renaissance constructivism. This period is known for stimulating creativity by allowing artists to abandon previously developed ways of the strict Medieval Era. New and old ideas of social constructivism were brought together in order to awaken intellectual awareness. During this period of time the European society made the transition from an exclusively religious one to a more secular one. Awareness of mathematics and science was bigger. Columbus discovered America (right after the Vikings did), Gutenberg perfected the printing press, Copernicus found that the earth revolved around the sun, and da Vinci and Michelangelo established a new form of art that has much to do with interior design.
During the Renaissance, home builders relied on designs from ancient Greece and Rome. In this sense, symmetry and geometry were the prevailing guiding principles in construction. Interior designs were rich in color and detail. Large aesthetically pleasing paintings were hanging off the walls. In some cases, entire walls were turned into beautiful form of art.
Because Renaissance started in Italy, walnut trees were the primarily raw material used for the design of new furniture and cabinetry. The distinguishing style of the period demanded that furniture of all types had inlay and intricate carvings. Storage cabinets, chest and chairs were all designed in this style, while tables were predominantly made of marble. Large cassoni, also known as marriage chests, acted as dowry chests where brides brought a previously agreed upon amount of currency to the marriage. This interesting tradition made the cassone one of the most common and desired piece of furniture in any home. Even though the cassoni were expensive, they were bough and brought home by nearly all social classes of the Renaissance period. The grandness of these solid wooden chests usually depended on the person’s social status and financial ability. The really large ones, made with gesso were usually found in noble families.
Interesting part of Renaissance interior design was the creation or sculpting of odd-looking gargoyles and monsters. Despite popular belief, these figures did not have a religious meaning, such as to keep bad spirits or the devil away. Interestingly enough, these sculptures were made to amuse. Another intriguing fact of this particular time period is that chairs symbolized wealth. The wealthiest families in Italy, and later on everywhere else in Europe, had them made very grand and sumptuous. The less fortunate could only afford three-legged stools made of plain wood. I guess according to Renaissance views I am a wealthy man. All of my chairs and stools have four legs. Not to mention that I have a couple of sofas as part of my modern furniture.
Beautiful artwork was noticeable on almost all types of furniture, be they wood or stone. Animal imagery, human forms and natural images were mostly noticeable. This socially and artfully enlightening period of time is still expressed in the forms of interior design in some parts of the world.