How industrial casters are finding their way into retro, vintage style furniture everywhere.
By Jamie Filman, RetroWorks
It used to be that there were two kinds of casters: there were the fragile little ceramic or wooden wheels on home and office furniture – think of your grandmother’s early 20th century chairs and desks - or the kind used in heavy industrial applications – everything from shopping carts to factory floor equipment. But what’s old is new again. In recent years, industrial casters have had a revival and are making their way into vintage industrial home and office furniture.
Casters have been in use in furniture for hundreds of years and were first patented in 1876 by David A. Fisher, an African American inventor from Washington, D.C. A caster is essentially a wheel in a bracket or housing fixed to furniture or machinery to make them easier to move. There are two categories of casters, swivel casters, which can move in any direction and rigid casters, which move backwards or forwards only. Casters can also be locking to prevent them from rolling.
More than anything else, the addition of a vintage or antique-looking caster to a furniture design gives the piece a retro industrial look. Do a Google search under “vintage industrial furniture” and you’ll find that industrial style pieces from coffee tables and end tables to bookshelves are almost always mounted on casters. Of course, casters are not just a stylistic item. In lieu of legs, casters also give an industrial style coffee table or end table some major mobility advantages. Heavy wood and steel bookshelves or coffee tables can easily be moved to clean under or behind them. Also, when rearranging furniture or during a move, it is far easier to have tables and shelves that are on casters. Casters even protect floors from scratching and there is almost never a need to lift a heavy piece of furniture when it’s on wheels.
“I wish all of my furniture was on casters.”
My favorite Aunt Gail is also one of our favorite customers. She tells me she loves our vintage industrial furniture because everything we make is on wheels. She wishes all her furniture was on casters. How about you, which way do you roll?