Furniture is movable articles or equipment used to support human activities, such as seating (chairs and stools), eating (tables and sofas), or sleeping (beds). Furniture can also hold objects at a convenient height for work (as desks and tables). It may be functional or decorative. Furniture has long been designed and built in a wide variety of styles and forms. Some are considered works of art, such as the carved wooden panels of the Alvar Aalto house in Finland. Other pieces are technologically innovative, such as the reclining chairs designed by Charles and Ray Eames in the 1940s or the ergonomically correct beds produced since the mid-20th century.
Historically, many types of wood were used in furniture, but in recent times metal and plastics have become common. Furniture design has always been affected by changing economics, fashion, and technology. It has also been influenced by a number of artistic movements, such as Art Nouveau and the Arts and Crafts movement.
When purchasing furniture, especially large items like dressers and cabinets, be sure to check that the pieces are solid and well-made. Give a piece a “hug” to see how stable it feels; good quality furniture should stand up to the test of time, and not rock or wobble. It is a good idea to avoid inexpensive pieces, as they are often low quality and likely to be uncomfortable. It is also wise to shop during sales, such as those held in spring and fall or around holiday periods, when many manufacturers offer discounts.