Monday, 17 October 2011

Principles within the Arts & Crafts

The principles within the Arts and Crafts Movement can be seen as:

1. A desire for unity of the arts.

As Walter Crane said,  "We must turn our artists into craftsmen and our craftsmen into artists"
There is no hierarchy within art and design, we are all important and so should collaborate.

You start seeing artisans working together. Such as the architect Edwin Lutyens and garden designer Gertrude Jekyll
Hestercombe Gardens, Somerset
2. Designers should have sound knowledge of materials, techniques and processes. They will access this through education. Art schools were established across industrial cities in the early 1800s. Attendees would normally take classes at night, taking back their learned skills to the workplace the following morning, taking us back to a desire for unity within the arts. Guilds were also established during this time: Artworkers Guild, New Century Guild, Guild of Handicraft. These are all still highly subscribed to today.
3. Handmade vs Machine Made. Handmade gives the object an assumed higher quality. It is individual, it is worth its price tag. But by using machines for commercial purpose, we can keep costs down. Pugin argued that we shouldn't "use machines just for the sake of it" and Voysey in his essay Ideas and Things says much of the same.

Holly Mount Chair, C F Voysey, 1898
common of Voysey's style, the heart and bird motifs, his signature
 4. Processes should be carried out by one person creating less of a distinction between designers and makers
5. Good Craftsmanship

 6. Function of both object and decoration, should take into account who you are designing for. Each generation has its own needs and requirements. There was a keen interest into the health and welfare of workers at this time. As Voysey said (1911):

'In offices for servants' use, let them be cheerful and not shabby and dark, as if it did not matter how your treated servants because you were paying for their services. Some day men will be ashamed to do ugly things and cheap and nasty treatment of servants will be regarded as dishonouring to the master.'                   
(Davey, 1990)

Glasgow School of Art, C R Mackintosh 1897-1909
Seen in the design by Charles Rennie Mackintosh of the Glasgow School of Art, notice the large open windows and the detail inside and out.

7. Simplicity in Decoration to know when to stop adding decoration is when you are a good designer! Look again to Voysey, and more recently to Dieter Rams, Le Corbusier, and The Bauhaus

'Simplicity in decoration is one of the most essential qualities without which no true richness is possible. To know when to stop and what not to do is a long way on the road to being a great decorator.'
Voysey, British Architect 1911 (Davey, 1990)

8. Respect for the nature of materials used.
Electroplated Nickel Silver (EPNS) starts being used in 1880. Look specifically at the work of Christopher Dresser for Hukin & Heath

'Knowledge Is Power' (His logo)
Tureen, Cover and Ladel, Christopher Dreser, 1880

9. Inspiration from nature and exploring locality. Rooms and furniture become full of light, as if engaging with nature. The National Trust is founded (and its motif is an oak leaf!) Look to Voysey and Broad Leys, Windermere; Gimson at Pinbury Park and the metal worker C R Ashbee - heavily influenced by nature.

Broad Leys, Windermere, C F A Voysey, 1898
Guild of Handicraft Bird Brooch, C R Asbee, 1900
10. Art for everyone through guilds, communes and exhibitions. Through retailers (and mail order), books, magazines and private presses.

Liberty's is established 1875. Bing's in 1871. Morris & Co also establish and introduce the concept of mail order. There is a new breed of customer, women have more disposable income, the spaces of retail become a place to both shop and meet. (In a more contemporary assessment of this look to Ray Oldenberg in A Great Good Place.)

Wallpapered store front
The paper tax is lifted in 1840 making it affordable to printand post and advertise...Posters became more popular and books, magazines and newspapers are much more common. Private Presses become established. Look to Morris and the Kelmscott Press for highly decorated prints.

The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, Kelmscott Press, William Morris, 1890s
Children's Books become popular. Look to Kate Greenaway and Walter Crane. Notice the clothing is simple and Pre-Raphelite.

The Pied Piper, Kate Greenaway
Walter Crane, Danae at Sea
Walter Crane, a toy book, 1874

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