This post is part of a monthly series that explores the historical applications of building materials and systems through resources from the Building Technology Heritage Library (BTHL), an online collection of AEC catalogs, brochures, trade publications, and more. The BTHL is a project of the Association for Preservation Technology, an international building preservation organization.

The selection of interior furnishings for a project regularly falls under the responsibility of a modern designer—either an interior designer or an architect adept in the discipline—particularly for commercial and institutional projects. Here, the BTHL highlights furniture options from the 20th century.

The Work of L & J.G. Stickley, Fayetteville, N.Y., 1914
This catalog highlights chairs, tables, sideboards, and more designed in the Mission, or Craftsman, style. This simple aesthetic was largely a response to the 19th century's detailed ornamentation.

Aladdin Homecraft Market Place, North American Construction Co., Bay City, Mich., 1915
Best known as a supplier of kit house designs, Aladdin also manufactured furnishings in a range of styles, including Colonial, Jacobean, Mission, and Sheraton.

Permanent Furniture for Better Built Homes, Curtis Cos. Service Bureau, Clinton, Iowa, 1924
Curtis Cos. describes the benefits of built-in furniture as “very good in a small room, because it takes and keeps its place as a part of the wall and increases the floor space.” This catalog reveals the manufacturer’s early contribution to modern kitchen storage comprising assemblies of stock cabinet units.

Murphy In-A-Dor Beds, Murphy Door Bed Co., Chicago, 1925
Designed to be easily stored away to free up floor space for hotels and apartments, the original Murphy bed was available in four different operation types: pivot, recess, wide door, and roller.

The Book of Lawn Furniture, Long-Bell Lumber, Co., Kansas City, Mo., 1934
The term “lawn furniture” applies to a wide range of outdoor infrastructure, including benches, arbors, fences, and even a child’s playhouse. Most of Long-Bell’s designs feature white painted woodwork rather than natural finishes.

Modern Ideas in Steel Furniture, Art Metal Construction Co., London, 1937
The Art Metal Construction Co. highlighted its use of durable metal instead of wood in its office furniture. However, metal cabinets could be specified with wood veneer.

Thonet, Frankenberg, Germany, 1938
Thonet is most often associated with bentwood furniture, but the company was also closely associated with the 1930s furniture designs coming out of the Bauhaus school. This publication features furniture designs by Marcel Breuer, as well as works by Emile Guyot and Le Corbusier.

Sellers Kitchen Furniture, G.I. Sellers and Sons Co., Elmwood, Ind., 1939
Best known as one of the Indiana manufacturers responsible for the Hoosier free-standing wooden kitchen cabinet, Sellers also sold Art Deco and Art Moderne furniture. This catalog also highlights tubular chrome chairs and tables, which would ultimately replace the previous generation of wooden kitchen furniture.

Better Furniture, Carson Pirie Scott & Co., Chicago, 1941–1942
This comprehensive home furnishings catalog includes furniture, appliances, china, and sports equipment ranging from “18th century French” to “American Modern” in style.

Furniture Forum: A Handbook of Contemporary Design, Hollis Christensen, Los Angeles, 1949
The inaugural issue of the Furniture Forum catalog includes furniture, lighting, fabrics, and accessories by some of the most important designers of the era, including Alvar Aalto, Jens Risom, and George Nelson.

Knoll, Knoll Associates, New York, 1949
The promotional publication showcases residential and commercial interiors designed with the company's various lines of furniture and fabrics. Of particular note is a two-page spread of an apartment renovation in New York designed by Florence Knoll. With its open plan and painted exposed-brick wall, this design is a modern prototype for the loft interiors of the 1970s.

The Complete Motel Contract Supply Corp., St. Louis, 1953
With everything from highway signs to room keys, the Motel Contract Supply Corp. lives up to its promise of manufacturing “all the needs of the Motel Industry.”