Robert Adam was a significant neoclassical architect, interior and furniture designer. He was instrumental in developing the “Adam style” in architecture and furniture design, along with his brothers James and John.
Adams was born in 1728 in Kilcady, Fife but his family moved to Edinburgh that same year. In 1746, he and his older brother John, trained under their father who was an accomplished architect. Upon their father’s death, the two brothers took over the partnership and included James Adam in the family business. The brothers worked on a number of new build and refurbishment projects including the Kedleston Hall, Osterely Park and Hopetoun House.
In 1754, Robert Adam went on an extensive tour around France and Italy under the patronage of the Earl of Hopetoun. The experience exposed him to the neoclassical styles of Europe and helped hone his drafting and design skills. In 1758, Robert returned to Great Britain and set up his own architectural practice in London with his brother James. Their company focused on producing complete design for both exterior and interior furnishings of their houses as complete schemes. Adams created many country houses in the Palladian style which was popular at the time. Robert also developed a few styles that incorporated elements of Classic Roman, Greek, Byzantine and Baroque influences.
Adam style furniture was remarkable in that it was made to match the beauty and grandeur of the building as a whole. It was also helped by the fact that the Adams collaborated with Thomas Chippendale on many of the interior decoration projects. Elegant lines, attention to detail and delicate neoclassical touches made the furniture stand out as works of art in their own right. Mahogany and satinwood were commonly used materials, with gilded decoration and tasteful inlays to provide harmony and confluence with the building exterior.