Accounting and the construction of taste: standard labour costs and the georgian cabinet-maker
The article examines the role of accounting in the dissemination of a classical taste in British furniture during the Georgian era. This is a celebrated period in furniture design, to which the fame of some of its key participants, such as Thomas Chippendale, still bears testimony. It is also a period in which the notion of interior decoration comes to prominence. Furniture and room arrangement began to mirror the taste in classical antiquity already evident in the architectural landscape. The dissemination of taste to the mass populace took the form of pattern books comprising easily replicated designs of household furniture. Regional versions of these books also contained detailed standard labour costs for every furniture design. In pre-empting conflict over piece-work pay these standards regulated the cabinet-making trade and, the article shows, encouraged a stability in labour relations conducive to the spread of a national taste in classicism.
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