We humans in the digital age have longed for man-made things. Every now and then you hear that handicraft traditions are reviving. Hand-made and do-it-yourself formats are undergoing an incredible rise. It is not surprising that interiors increasingly decorated with the motives of Arts & Crafts – the English-born style, glorifying the beauty of manual labor.
Arts & Crafts movement originated in Victorian England in response to the emergence of industrial consumer goods, a mass of faceless things created by machines.
The poet and artist William Morris was depressed by the conveyor production and weighed down by the excessive decor of Victorianism. Inspired by the ideas of Pre-Raphaelite artists and art theorist John Ruskin, he came up with the Arts & Crafts movement.
Morris and his associates – artists, designers, architects, artisans, and writers – sought to return beauty to everyday life, and a lost sense of joy from the process of work itself to themselves.
Everything Morris and his associates did were produced by hand from natural materials. Their works were deprived of the pretentiousness of the Victorian era; there was nothing superfluous in them.
In the wake of the movement, crafts began to revive: stained glass painting, embroidery, hand-made furniture, tapestries, and fabrics.
Of course, Morris also designed his own house in accordance with the principles of the “arts and crafts” movement. This is the Red House in Kent, where everything from furniture to decor was done by Morris and his friends.
Transition to US
It is interesting that the original ideas of the movement did not last long in England. Because of manual production, they were too expensive and were practically forgotten by 1915. But in America, which Morris also managed to visit, this style quickly took root and existed until the 1930s under the name of “missionary”.
The main movement on this side of the Atlantic was furniture maker Gustav Stickley. Remember the film “The Great Gatsby” by Bourdon Lurman: Nick Carraway’s cottage is filled with furniture made in the classical style of Gustav Stickley with the addition of many items in the spirit of Arts & Crafts. And in the notorious saga “Twilight”, the protagonist makes his own bed for his beloved one, and according to the production designer, the idea was inspired by the style of Arts & Crafts, popular in America at the beginning of the 20th century.
Today, interest in Arts and Crafts is reviving again. But in order to obtain the right to exist in the 21st century, it had to make some concessions.
The Philosophy and Colors of Arts and Crafts Style
It’s not necessary that your table or chest is made by hand, but they should look pretending to be handmade.
The same is right for painting wood panels: if at the time of Morris this would have been completely inappropriate because the whole value of the timber was expected in its natural shades and shapes only, today it is quite acceptable to use painted wood: but just in characteristic hues of style: dark walnut, olive green, terracotta or deep blue.
Nevertheless, the main components of the style remained unchanged. Furniture in the style of Arts & crafts is predominantly wooden, most often made of oak. The lines are clear; the forms are regular and concise. Metal, leather, and textiles are often used for furniture decor, as for the famous Morris armchair decorated with copper fittings.
Arts and Crafts Accessories
Pretty cold, dark furniture in the spirit of Arts & Crafts is “warmed up” with light: table and floor lamps and chandeliers. The real classical genre is lamps in the style of the master Louis С. Tiffany (1848-1933), especially the so-called “Tiffany’s iridescent glass” or mica-glass. In general, all kinds of decorative glass elements, especially stained glass, are another characteristic plot in the interior of Arts & Crafts.
And, of course, the ornaments are the face of style. The rich heritage of William Morris is not forgotten to this day. Wallpaper and fabric with original artist prints or variations on the theme are produced by companies such as Morris & Co, Zoffany, Cole & Son, Watts of Westminster, Lewis & Wood.
Another line of the “mandatory programme” is wall panels and wood floors, preferably in dark tones.
Fireplace for the Interior
And how can the English interior do without a fireplace! The design idea of the followers of Arts & Crafts took the fireplace for granted. Today, things are more complicated with a fireplace, but there is always a way out. For example, Bisazza produces a mosaic panel with a burning fireplace and with an exact copy of one of Morris’s ornaments.
You can feel yourself a follower of Morris and immerse yourself in the style of that era on your own using the stencils that the Stencil Library produces. The motives are also authentic.
The choice is great, so it’s important to remember the main rule of Arts & Crafts, which says: “Do not keep anything in your house that you do not consider useful or beautiful.”