criticism.jpgThe Arts and Crafts Movement

The Arts and Crafts Movement was an aesthetics movement established in Britain around 1862. The movement was a response to the negative consequences of the Industrial
Revolution. The major influential figures of the movement were designer, reformer and ardent socialist William Morris, designer A.W.N Pugin, and theorist and art critic John Ruskin. The Arts and Crafts Movement's members consisted of artists, designers, architects, writers, and craftsmen.
William Morris once stated, "I do not want art for a few, any more than I want freedom for a few." That was the central idea for the Arts and Crafts Movement.

Their vision was that of a society where workers were not brutalized by poor working conditions found in industrial factories. Instead, the worker should take pride in good craftsmanship and skill. The quality of objects mass produced were often poor and the leaders of the movement proposed that the revival of individual craftsmanship would allow for the creation of beautiful objects to enhance peoples lives. The Arts and Crafts Movement advocated for the reform of art on all levels.

The major innovation of the movement was the focus on their ideology, rather than design and style. The movement succeeded in raising craftsmen's statuses and respect for the handmade. The downside of this was that creating everything by hand became expensive, and the items could not be produced for the masses.

Architecture and Interior Design

Architecture of the Arts and Crafts movement began with William Morris' Red House. The Red House in Bexleyheath, London (1895) was quite literally a red, brick house. It began the movement with the use of free flowing design, absence of pretentious facades, concern for structure, the use of local materials and embracing traditional building methods. It was designed for Morris by architect Philip Webb. Webb and Morris worked together on design projects with their shared "anti-industrial" ideas. The Red House was designed in the English Tudor Gothic style, including features such as steep roofs, prominent chimneys, cross gables, and exposed beam ceilings.
The Craftsman home and the bungalow style were also derived from the Arts and Crafts Movement. Bungalows allowed working class families to experience "serious architecture."
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A goal of the movement was to create designs dictated by function. The Red House, for example, was built in an L shape to consider the spaces meant to be dedicated to gardens.
While these houses were meant to accommodate the middle class, they were very expensive to create and therefore not many people could afford them.

Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959) shaped a new style of living and architectural design with his introduction to the Prairie Style. His architecture was distinct, with low-pitched roofs, open concept interiors, and the use of horizontal lines that reflect the prairie landscape. He utilized natural resources such as wood and clay, and stone. Wright's "organic" style architecture sparked a new style. His designs reflected the observed beauty of natural things, a prominent concept of the movement.

Wallpaper and Book Art

Flat, patterned designs were very common during the time. Wallpaper design was highly popular; many created from natural pigments and wood blocks. William Morris himself was a popular designer, often including an upside down heart, making his designs distinct. Morris began designing his own wallpapers in the 1860s, which were then printed by Jeffrey Co. in London. His designs contained complex rhythm and movement, to reflect nature.

In 1891, Morris founded the Kelmscott Press where he designed and produced hand printed books of the finest quality. The books were printed on hand made paper and bound with vellum, emulating 15th century Italy. Morris designed the typefaces, decorative borders, and title pages which were based on medieval manuscripts. Pre-Raphaelite artist Edward Burne-Jones did the illustrations for the books. In the end, Kelmscott Press published 53 books, 18,000 copies total. Of these books included "The Nature of Gothic", a chapter from the book "The Stones of Venice", written by art critic John Ruskin. Sadly, their beautiful hand made books were too expensive to create to ever make a profit. It ran for only seven years, closing in 1898, two years after Morris' death.

The high standards of the Kelmscott Press inspired a revival of the printing press in Europe and America. It also influenced the beginning of typography and graphic design in the 20th century.


Similar to all other aspects of the movement, Arts and Crafts pottery abandoned the idea of mass produced ceramics. It favored the individuality and uniqueness of each individual vessel. Simple in style, and in glaze.
Schools and training programs educated young women in the creation of pottery, teaching quality design. The Saturday Evening Girls Club, established in 1899 originally as a reading group, founded Paul Revere Pottery. Paul Revere Pottery began production in 1908, giving girls the ability to earn good wages.

In 1894-95, Newcomb Pottery was founded under the H. Sophie Newcomb Memorial College. They used local designs, flora, and fauna as their inspiration.
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Influences on Later Art

The Arts and Crafts movement's qualities inspired designers and movements throughout history. Art Nouveau, The Destijl, Viennese Secessionstil, even the Bauhaus were all influenced by the movement. It is a prelude to modernism. European countries continued to attempt to recreate the world of hand made items that was being destroyed by industrialization. In America however, the influence took a different direction. Americans took the movement further and created the middle class home. The simple aesthetic of the Arts and Crafts movement was ideal. In an attempt to reflect the style in Europe, Americans designed the "Craftsman" style home, taken from Gustav Stickley's magazine with the same title. The Bungalow was also introduced, and designers were influenced by the work of the Prairie School.



Works Cited
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"Khan Academy." Khan Academy. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 June 2016. <>.

Obniski, Monica. “The Arts and Crafts Movement in America.” In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. (June 2008)

"William Morris - The Arts and Crafts Movement." William Morris - The Arts and Crafts Movement. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 June 2016. <>.