Thomas Chippendale (1718–1779) was a cabinet-maker in London, designing furniture in the mid-Georgian, English Rococo, and Neoclassical styles. In 1754 he published a book of his designs in a trade catalogue titled The Gentleman and Cabinet Maker's Director—the most important collection of furniture designs published in England to that point which created a mass market for furniture—upon which success he became renowned. According to the Victoria and Albert Museum, "so influential were his designs, in Britain and throughout Europe and America, that 'Chippendale' became a shorthand description for any furniture similar to his Director designs".
Chippendale was born in Otley in the West Riding of Yorkshire, England in June 1718. He was baptised on 5 June. He was the only child of John Chippendale (1690–1768), joiner, and his first wife Mary (née Drake; 1693–1729). He received an elementary education at Prince Henry's Grammar School. The Chippendale family had long been involved with the wood working trades and so he probably received his basic training from his father, though it is believed that he was also trained by Richard Wood in York, before he relocated to London. Wood later ordered eight copies of the Director. On 19 May 1748 he married Catherine Redshaw at St George's Chapel, Mayfair and they had five sons and four daughters.
During 1749 Chippendale rented a modest house in Conduit Court, near Covent Garden. In 1752 he relocated to Somerset Court, off the Strand. In 1754 Chippendale relocated to 60–62 St Martin's Lane in London, where for the next 60 years the family business operated, until 1813 when his son, Thomas Chippendale (Junior), was evicted for bankruptcy. During 1754 he also began a partnership with James Rannie, a wealthy Scottish merchant, who put money into the business at the same time as Chippendale produced the first edition of the Director. Rannie and his bookkeeper, Thomas Haig, probably cared for the finances of the business. His wife, Catherine, died during 1772. After James Rannie died in 1766, Thomas Haig seems to have borrowed £2,000 from Rannie's widow, which he used to become Chippendale's partner. One of Rannie's executors, Henry Ferguson, became a third partner and so the business became Chippendale, Haig and Co. Thomas Chippendale (Junior) assumed management of the business in 1776 allowing his father to retire. He relocated to what was then called Lob's Fields (now known as Derry Street) in Kensington. Chippendale married Elizabeth Davis at Fulham Parish Church on 5 August 1777. He fathered three more children. In 1779 Chippendale relocated to Hoxton where he died of tuberculosis and was buried at St Martin-in-the-Fields on 16 November 1779.