Mirrored furniture has its origins as far back as the 12th century, however, you may not recognise the first pieces as they are presented today. Bronze and copper and possibly gold were polished and rolled and bent to form a concave shape in order to send an image back to the person looking at it. With this technology the images were distorted and unclear.
At some stage between rthe 12th and 17th centuries new methods were developed using flat glass with a thin metal backing made of a mixture of tin and mercury which gave a much better mirror effect. This technology seems to have been perfected in Venice thus making Venice, arguably, the acknowledged centre and birthplace of mirrored furniture. Artisans experimented with different settings and pieces, moving from Venice and migrating through Europe, France and England taking their expertise with them.
Versailles became another centre showcasing the most elaborate settings for mirrors, mirrored furniture and Venetian decor.
Once mirrors took on their metal backing, mirrored furniture was produced and the mirror was used in different settings. Mirrors were encased in different settings such as ivory, ebony, walnut, olive, silver, laburnum and tortoiseshell to name a few.
Wall ornaments and fireplace toppers were the main initial deigns of mirrored furniture. Mirrored furniture that is thought of today, started in the late 17th and early 18th century.
Mirrored furniture offered almost an early mix and match style. For example a mirror could be used as part of a dressing station, the "lady of the day" could place the mirror on a desk style piece of furniture thus creating a vanity styled furniture piece.
Typical Venetian style from the 1900's was an ornate piece of oval glass surrounded by decorated glass with an ivory edging and pearl beads.
Another typical Venitian style of mirrored furniture is a circular design with a concave mirror where the outer pieces give more ornamentation with a line technique.
Triple deco mirrored furniture is a renowned antique Venetian style, where a large piece of glass is used with a square bottom and sides using two mirrors on either side in a proportion of half the size of the original middle section creating a symmetrical appearance and close to a 180 degree view.
The inventiveness of the Venetians and French created other items such as candle holders where a metal plated square mirror with leaf styled settings were used to make the candle holder.
In essence, mirrored furniture finally developed into todays formats, ranging from bedside tables, tallboys, dressers, wall hangings, dresser accessories to ornate designs with a myriad of functions.