The core of the Furniture Design Collection was acquired in 1904 from the Louisiana Purchase Exposition World's Fair at St. Louis when the Library purchased every furniture title available from the French Book Trade Exhibit. Subsequently, both the Library and the Grand Rapids Furniture Designers Association have added hundreds of important titles published in various languages. The Collection has been further enhanced by the donation of private book collections of retired local designers. Now numbering over 4,000 items (excluding periodicals and Trade Catalogs), the Collection continues to grow.
Access is available through the GRPL on-line catalog and requests for material are made though the Grand Rapids History & Special Collections Department.
For example, you can browse a list of books on interior decoration here.
The collection is for reference use only.
In addition to the Furniture Design Collection, the archives of the Grand Rapids Public Library contain additional resources on the furniture industry and furniture design.
Furniture and Business Periodical Index Search (1883-1949) - An index of Furniture Manufacturer / Artisan, Grand Rapids Furniture Record, Michigan Artisan, and Michigan Tradesman.
Fine Furniture This magazine covers the time period from May 1936 - December 1937. Includes table of contents, index to ads, articles on furniture history, market news, home furnishings news and reviews. "Around Grand Rapids Market" contains local news. There is also a "Sketch Book" which includes familiar designs interpreted by famous designers.
Michigan Artisan Covers the years from 1905-1909. The Michigan Artisan, a furniture industry publication printed here in Grand Rapids, contains a wealth of information on the Furniture Industry. It contains a broad range of articles with regular news reports from Grand Rapids and other cities. This periodical also contains many images of furniture and an index to advertisers.
Weekly Artisan Covers the years from 1909-1910. The Weekly Artisan, the successor to the Michigan Artisan, contains a wealth of information on the Furniture Industry. It contains a broad range of articles with regular news reports from Grand Rapids and other cities. This periodical also contains many images of furniture and an index to advertisers.
The Grand Rapids Public Museum also holds a significant collection of photographs, catalogs, design drawings, industry publications, and other ephemera documenting the furniture industry in Grand Rapids.
The Furniture City History website, maintained by the Grand Rapids Historical Commission, is a good resource for additional information about the history and heritage of the furniture industry in Grand Rapids.
- Arts & Crafts Society
- Bernice Bienenstock Furniture Library
- Herman Miller Consortium Collection
- Winterthur Library
The Local History Department may be reached by phone at 616-988-5400 (see hours and directions). Research Requests for both the Western Michigan Genealogy Society and the Local History Department may be directed to 616-988-5400 x5496 or sent here: Grand Rapids History and Special Collections Department
Due to the time and staff resources involved in researching answers to local history, genealogy, and furniture questions, some fees apply to certain types of requests. We encourage researchers to come to our library to be assisted for free.
-Family history queries are answered by the Western Michigan Genealogical Society research committee for a fee of $15.00 per hour of research.
-Michigan and Grand Rapids history research questions are answered by the Local History Department staff at a rate of $30.00 per hour. Copying charges are extra. Indexed obituaries are charged as follows: no charge for the first requested obituary, with any request beyond one obituary to be charged based on the library's research rate of $30.00 per hour. Non-indexed obituaries are charged at the hourly research rate.
The Local History Department may be reached by phone at 616-988-5400. Also, see hours and directions. Requests for both the Western Michigan Genealogy Society and the Local History Department may be sent here: Contact the Grand Rapids History and Special Collections Department