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Furniture refers to movable objects intended to support various human activities such as seating (eg, chairs, stools, and sofas), eating (tables), and sleeping (eg, beds). Furniture is also used to hold objects at a suitable height for work (as horizontal surfaces above the floor, such as tables and desks) or for storing objects (for example, cupboards and shelves ). Furniture can be a design product and is considered a decorative art form. In addition to the functional role of furniture, it can serve a symbolic or religious purpose. It can be made from many materials including metal, plastic, and wood. Furniture can be made using a variety of joinery joints which often reflect local culture.
People have used natural objects, such as tree stumps, rocks, and moss, as furniture since the beginning of human civilization. Archaeological research shows that around 30,000 years ago, people began to build and carve their own furniture, using wood, stone, and animal bones. The first pieces of furniture from this period are known from works of art such as a Venus figurine found in Russia, depicting the goddess on a throne. The first surviving existing furniture is in the houses of Skara Brae in Scotland and includes wardrobes, dressers and beds all built in stone. Intricate construction techniques such as carpentry began in the early dynastic period of ancient Egypt. This era saw pieces of wood constructed, including stools and tables, sometimes decorated with precious metals or ivory. The evolution of furniture design continued in ancient Greece and ancient Rome, with thrones commonplace as well as klinai, versatile sofas used for relaxing, eating, and sleeping. Furniture from the Middle Ages was generally heavy, oak and ornate. Furniture design developed during the Italian Renaissance of the 14th and 15th centuries. The 17th century in southern and northern Europe was characterized by opulent Baroque patterns, often in gold. The 19th century is generally defined by styles of renewal. The first three quarters of the twentieth century are often seen as the march towards modernism. The return to natural shapes and textures is a unique consequence of the design of post-modern furniture.