British & Irish Furniture Makers Online

BIFMO is the Furniture History Society's free online database and research resource comprising the biographical details and histories of furniture makers, designers and ancillary trades across Britain and Ireland from the beginning of the 16th century to the early decades of the 20th century.

Now in its fifth year, BIFMO was conceived and developed in partnership with the University of London’s Institute of Historical Research (IHR) which currently hosts the site: https://bifmo.history.ac.uk/.

Geoffrey Beard’s and Christopher Gilbert’s seminal Dictionary of English Furniture Makers 1660-1840 (1986) serves as the foundation and inspiration for the database now including over 73,000 records stored in six sources. This includes updated biographies from Beard and Gilbert plus the details of thousands of previously undocumented historical furniture-making craftspeople and firms in the industry.

  1. The Dictionary of British and Irish Furniture Makers, 1500-1914
  2. A Dictionary of Edinburgh Wrights and Furniture Makers, 1660-1840
  3. A Dictionary of Norfolk Furniture Makers. 1700-1840
  4. The Bernard and Geraldine Cotton Archive, 1700-1900
  5. London Joiners’ Company records, 1640-1820
  6. London Upholders’ Company records, 1704-1772

A cabinet-maker's office, c.1770 © Victoria & Albert Museum

The result is an innovative, globally-free research tool. With its wealth of information and entries, it acts as a one-stop, go-to site for all researchers in the field of furniture history, interiors, and furnishings of British and Irish town and country houses, and as a source for research into furniture and associated trades, manufactures and suppliers; their organising structures, clientele; their production and the services they offered.

In addition to BIFMO providing scholars, academics, students, collectors, and the antique trade with a variety of comprehensive information, it also enables new research to be added to both the database and blog portals. Thanks to generous personal contributions and grants, an active research programme for emerging scholars has been added to the BIFMO project. One of our research initiatives has been the collaboration with IHR’s Layers of London project, where some 16,000 London furniture makers (c. 1600-1880) are now mapped: https://www.layersoflondon.org/.  BIFMO is also an associated partner with CODA, the US Consortium of Decorative Arts databases.

British and Irish Furniture Makers Online is the Furniture History Society’s research tool for the 21st century.