Arts & CraftsCategory: Ad House Gallery, The Ad House
The Arts & Crafts Room
The Arts & Crafts Movement began in England in the 1860s as a reform movement by John Ruskin (1819-1900) and William Morris (1834-1896). Morris took Ruskin’s ideas about nature, art, morality and the degradation of human labor and translated them into a unified theory of design. Morris felt that people couldn’t even dream of creating beauty in the industrialized conditions of the Victorian age — that they had to change society to create beautiful things. Morris was appalled by the over-the-top ornamentation of Victorian design, especially its eclectic mix of styles produced by machines in mass quantity with no function but to decorate. This manufactured look was epitomized by furniture design known as “Eastlake”, named after Charles Eastlake, who became synonymous with furnishings that copied ornate designs of earlier periods, but which were actually produced cheaply by machines.
The Kelmscott Press was Morris’ lasting achievement. It was a small book printing and binding company that became known for its outstanding examples of the book arts. He considered the paper, ink, typefaces, leading and kerning, margins, illustration and decoration in detail. The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer was its masterpiece. It revolutionized book production in Europe and US. A slew of private presses were established in the wake of Kelmscott Press.
Morris and Ruskin set standards and laid down theories that dozens of leaders throughout the world followed. Their design-within-society philosophy influenced the founders of modernism, such as van de Velde and Gropius, who extended Arts & Crafts philosophies into machine production.