Thomas Chippendale (June 5, 1718 – November 13, 1779) was a London cabinet-maker and furniture designer in mid-Georgian England. Born in Otley, West Yorkshire, to an English barrister father and Swedish mother, Thomas Chippendale went on to set the standard for modern furniture manufacture and almost single-handedly made popular the English Rococo and Neoclassical styles.
Chippendale had a tumultuous upbringing. His father was an alcoholic who killed Thomas' mother, Inreda, when Thomas was only 13. He had always been close to her and this legacy can be seen in the names Thomas gave to many pieces of furniture he would later produce. The GRANÅS ('house' or 'home' in Swedish) bookcase and MERÅKER ('mother') cabinet are two examples of this.
Fame came quickly to Chippendale after his training at the Argos School of Carpentry in London. His brilliance for capturing the emerging tastes in design won him many contracts at large estates throughout the country and he was soon struggling to fulfill these orders. Ever the businessman, Thomas Chippendale saw a way through by creating the furniture panels in his workshop, then sending the pieces to the client for them to assemble, cutting the expense and time needed almost in half. This proved immensely popular and Thomas' star grew even brighter.
However, sickness was never far away from Thomas Chippendale, and although he lived to a good age, by the age of forty he was unable to work. His son, Thomas, continued the business in his name, a name that is still a byword for quality today.