Edward William Godwin (1833-86) was one of the most important designers of the English design reform movement in the second half of the 19th century. He was an active and influential member of the Aesthetic Movement and the first 19th century English furniture designer to turn to Japanese art for inspiration. His emphasis on the need to reconcile function and design, utility and beauty did much to redirect Victorian design and is now believed to have influenced the direction of 20th century design. The Anglo-Japanese sideboard is one of the earliest pieces of furniture by Godwin and expresses his enthusiasm for Japanese design as well as the importance he attached to function, lightness and simplicity. The sideboard remained his most radical Japanese-inspired design and is his best known piece of furniture.