Furniture Inspirations

Furniture Inspirations

ShackletonThomas designs are interpretations of historic, classic styles from around the world with a sensibility to simplicity and delicate detailing. Further, our designs are influenced by Charlie's heritage in Ireland and England, as well as world travels, and living in Vermont.


Anna Liffey

The Anna Liffey collection is characterized by a delicate “x” that repeats itself in a linear pattern. The end result is a design that has enormous delicacy and finesse. In its smaller version it appears like a fretwork or frill.

The design was inspired by a set of Irish "fork back" dining chairs that Charles discovered in the mill house of his family's Irish flour milling business, founded by his great, great grandfather in 1776. Anna Liffey was the name of the mill that sits on the River Liffey which flows from the mill for seven miles to the center of Dublin.

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The backbone of the Classic Collection is the Sophia's chair. This name, apart from being that of the Shackleton's daughter, originates from the Greek word meaning “wisdom.” The Sophia's chair not only honors Sophie Shackleton, but also the chair's design roots in the ancient Greek klismos chair. Homer said that the klismos chair was used by goddesses - but actually it was a very commonly found chair at that time. The klismos chair was defined by its graceful sweeping arms and legs and the well defined rectangular and curved backboard. The chair has a characteristic curl that appears also on our very popular and comfortable fully upholstered Lucy's Chair and Lucy's Loveseat- so named after Charles and Miranda's beloved Fox Terrier who used to love to curl up in the prototype in their living room.

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Well, you could say that Charles’ heart lies with these pieces. “I loved the rural life of west Ireland, which is not unlike that of Vermont, only a bit more ancient. It is easy to admire this lifestyle, but also so easy to forget that the simple rustic life often represents extreme poverty and hard work. You can see that in the traditional Irish cottage furniture, and that’s what I love about it. The furniture tells you about people, historically and contemporaneously.”

Our version of the traditional Irish Cottage Chair evokes a rural lifestyle and is a nod to simpler times. Although the piece is rustic in appearance, it is a very labor intensive piece to make involving extensive hand chamfering with a draw knife, and finicky details.

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David is Charles’ nephew who moved from Ireland to America when he was 23. He needed to decorate his new apartment, and Charles thought we could do with a new line of furniture that was contemporary, simple, clean-lined, practical and still beautiful, and obviously handmade; it was the ultimate test. Could we design something that was handmade and simple that still had all the character of the pieces that were loaded with ornament?

We all look up to the elegantly simple handcrafted pieces from Japan, Ireland, and Mexico, that are full of character without showing off. They show the humble lifestyle from which they came. Unfortunately Charles’ nephew went back to Ireland before decorating his new apartment with the promised furniture, but we were left with a great new line! David's Collection showcases clean lines with an emphasis on heavy hand planing.

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Charles’ mother was English, and very proud of it. In fact, her father was a General in the British army. She married a man (Charles’ father) whose Quaker family had come to Ireland from Yorkshire in 1720. He was a bit of a wild man, and she quickly discovered that Ireland was not England. That having been said, Charles’ mother had a fairly wild side too, but that’s another story. The roots of ShackletonThomas furniture designs are a mixture of English Georgian and rural Irish. The English Collection shows off Charles’ more restrained and principled side with classic molding and detailing.

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The pieces in Juliet’s Collection were inspired by Charles’ great friend Juliet GS who greatly admired these designs when they first appeared. Of course we all know the reference to another Juliet and the notion of love and romance, was also important, particularly when it came to the Juliet’s Bed, which was the first of these pieces to appear. The decoration is fanciful, sophisticated, and feminine, with its running leaves and punctual five-petal flowers.

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Marco’s Collection combines simple, contemporary shapes with classic mortise and tenon joinery to showcase the richness and vitality of the wood in its grains. Each is stripped to its bare essentials, nothing more.

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The inspiration from the nautilus shell and seacoast waves extend into Miranda’s pieces. The distinctive shell-shaped finials that soften the paneled headboard and footboard on Miranda’s bed evoke the sea.

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Modern Classic

Classic fluted detailing, modern proportions, and traditional craftsmanship define the latest collection of furniture by ShackletonThomas. Ideal for today’s living, Modern Classic incorporates classic design elements to bridge old and new world sensibility.

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The Naked Collection

“During the past long winter, I dug deep within myself, to create a piece of furniture that embodied all the passion, philosophy and vigor that I had for furniture making 22 years ago. A piece of furniture created out of locally grown wood, made by our own hands, that was functional, beautiful, and central to our lives. Something raw, bare-boned and ‘naked’ of any ego or cleverness. Something true and honest that embodies why we love this rural lifestyle and living in Vermont.”

—Charles Shackleton

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As a nod to our nation’s focus on the economy at present, and Charles Shackleton’s ancestor, the famous economist David Ricardo, we are pleased to offer you a new, more economical, dining table and chair option.

One of David Ricardo’s tenets was that the value of an item is set by the quantity of labor used to produce it. Our customers know that the value of our products is defined by the amount of skilled work we do by using traditional hand tools. By focusing on a simpler design and utility, we are able to offer the Ricardo Collection as a more affordable option. The Ricardo chairs feature contemporary styling and comfort, while the tables showcase our signature hand planing and square pinned tenons. Each piece from the collection is made from sustainably harvested cherry.

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The name “Sleigh” comes from our Sleigh Bed, but the actual origin of this collection comes from long before that, twenty years ago when Charles was designing the arm chair to go with his first side chair. Charles’ original idea for the curl came from the volute that is found at the top of the Ionic column in ancient Greece. They say it was inspired by the nautilus shell or ferns. Charles says, “to me it implies stature, humor, movement, and character all at the same time. I have used it in many different forms. It requires skilled handwork to carve, and I find it very often leads the eye into other more subtle areas of skilled handwork. What is more, it is fun to carve.”

The sleigh curl has become one of our signature motifs.

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The Tuscan collection is characterized by the use of the Tuscan column, and deep, well-refined moldings and panels that use very classic shapes such as the ogee (also known as the cymta recta).

The Tuscan column is one of the simplest of the columns of the classic orders and is considered to be a more rural derivative of the Greek Doric order developed by the Etruscans. Charles developed the molding from measurements he took from many of the doors he saw while traveling in Florence. He further developed this style by the use of carved Vasari’s moldings which lend a carnival air to these pieces. The original inspiration came from a table that Charles saw in the home of the author Giorgio Vasari in Arezzo, Italy.

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