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What is The arts and craft movement

What is The arts and craft movement

The Arts and Craft movement started in England in the second half of the 19th Century. It was a design and artistic style that came into play that really challenged the existing Victorian tastes that were prominent during this time.

At a later stage the style was taken up by American designers, producing different results, over in the U.S it was also known as Mission Style.

Pioneers of this movement are thought to have been social reform thinkers Walter Crane, William Morris and John Ruskin. There notion of fantastic creativity were linked to their notions of a good society. This was a vision in which an everyday worker was not subjected to poor conditions and broken by their everyday life working in factories. Instead it was about encouraging pride in craftsmanship, skill and self-design.

The period had seen a rise in of the consumer class and mass produced projects. Often these products were of a poor quality and design. The movement encouraged the craft of homemade products and Ruskin and Morris proposed that produce was better coming from individual craftsmanship.

Workers could then produce unique beautiful designs and products which would give them employment and raise the standard of consumerism, which until that point had consisted of shoddy, poor quality mass production.

It was hoped that the design and creation would enhance the lives and be” for the people” and “by the people”

The style was inspired by the histories of various countries craftwork. Medieval Guilds provided the modelling of a production system to incorporate aesthetic ideas borrowed from Medieval Europe and Islam. Japanese craft were also used in the early years of Arts and Crafts.


The art and Craft style was very angular, incorporating rectangles decorated with motifs of Islamic and medieval design. Unfortunately the skill, the craftsmanship and the beautiful quality of products created meant that the normal “worker” could not afford such luxury.

So instead of being for the people it was merely becoming production that was accessible to the rich. This also meant that the volume was not sufficient enough to employ the craftsman for any length of time. The affordable price of mass production meant it was never replaced and the exquisite pieces created became rare pieces only enjoyed by the gentry of the English population