Before the Industrial Revolution, which sent furniture well on its way to mass production, each piece was made by hand. You would make the chair you sat in, the bed frame you slept in, the bench you ate dinner at, as well as the table your dinner was on. People of wealth have always had the capital to have mundane tasks outsourced, and furniture making was no different. Cabinet makers, the original furniture "manufacturers" such as Duncan Phyfe, handcrafted each and every piece of furniture to either his own or his clients specifications. He is renowned for his elegant designs and superior craftsmanship. Duncan incorporated Empire & Federalist design elements into his wide ranging designs that are still desirable today. Phyfe single handedly shaped the local New York style for the elite class for at least two generations. Duncan Phyfe's life's work, 1770-1854, is now being displayed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Highly Recommended!
Fast forward to the year 2012 and you can still find cabinet makers who make each piece by hand. Rarely do they share the same precision and detail as Phyfe's but I think the beauty and delicacy of a handmade cabinet will always reign over the machine.