Introducing Arts and Crafts Furniture
The Arts and Crafts movement developed at the tail end of the Victorian era in response to the emergence of poor-quality manufactured goods. The movement encompassed architecture, design, fine art, and decorative arts such as furniture. With Arts and Crafts furniture, the goal was to reintroduce the quality craftsmanship displayed by traditional, handcrafted furniture. These pieces form the centrepiece of Arts and Crafts interiors.
Moreover, during the Victorian era, furniture was generally very large and ornate. Designers of Arts and Crafts furniture pushed back against this. They instead introduced rectilinear pieces more simple in design, with quality craftsmanship the focal point of each piece.
KEY FIGURES IN THE ARTS AND CRAFTS MOVEMENT
The Arts and Crafts movement was inspired by ideas put forward by designer William Morris, architect Augustus Pugin, and writer John Ruskin. They were leaders in the artistic style that would encapsulate the movement, with William Morris stating that ‘nothing should be made by man’s labour which is not worth making’. Inspired by these ideas, the Arts and Crafts Society held its first exhibition in 1888, with key members including Mackmurdo, Ashbee and Voysey. They, in particular, opposed mass production of furniture, favouring handcrafted pieces made from quality materials, such as walnut and oak
One famed Arts and Crafts furniture maker is Robert ‘Mouseman’ Thompson, known for his distinctive signature embellishment on his pieces, due to being ‘as poor as a church mouse’. This mouse has now become a symbol of quality and dedication to craftsmanship. Thompson chose to work with plain English oak, and then shaped the piece with an adze to give the wood a rippled appearance.
Following this, many renowned furniture makers of the time crafted high-quality Arts and Crafts pieces that have lasted for generations, such as fine chair specialist William Birch and other well-known makers like E W Goodwin and Pugin.
THE FEATURES OF ARTS AND CRAFTS FURNITURE
With quality at the heart of the Arts and Crafts movement, makers opted for high-quality materials like solid oak and other hardwoods to craft the pieces, owing to their longevity. Many Arts and Crafts makers also chose to leave the joints and fastenings on pieces exposed, conveying the importance of the craftsmanship that was involved in the process of furniture making. Moreover, Arts and Crafts pieces are often rectilinear, meaning that they have many straight lines, often with elongated, vertical forms. And, more often than not, Arts and Crafts furniture is also made of stained dark wood. Essentially, the main feature of these pieces is that they reject the complex, cluttered design seen in Victorian furniture, embracing minimal decoration instead.
WHERE TO INCORPORATE ARTS AND CRAFTS FURNITURE IN YOUR INTERIORS
Due to its sturdiness and quality craftsmanship, Arts and Crafts furniture was built to last, and so you can find a variety of pieces to suit any room in your home. The movement adopted a total design approach, meaning that there are many ways in which to create Arts and Crafts interiors, incorporating furniture, textiles and architectural elements. If you’re looking to make a statement while also adding storage to a space, an Arts and Crafts dresser is an excellent choice, many include eye-catching details such as chequered inlay. Alternatively, there are many smaller pieces that can add a touch of Arts and Crafts style to your interiors, chairs are wonderful for this as they perfectly display the craftsman’s skills with many design elements such as carved detailing.
You can shop our range of Arts and Crafts Furniture here.
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