Sometimes referred to as the Arts and Crafts movement or the American Craftsman style, this period in design history became popular toward the end of the 1800’s and continued until the 1930’s. It is probably one of the more “revived” schools of design and to this day experiences a larger share of popularity, than all other periods of design. One of the things that has made it so popular throughout history is it’s continuing adaptability to any current period.
Many people aren’t aware that the movement of Arts and Crafts was actually initiated by the design communities disdain for the recent Industrial Revolutions total disregard for hand crafted goods. It was felt, although production methods, brought about due to the Industrial Revolution, were more streamlined and efficient. They lacked the quality, hand crafted items and building methods offer the public back in the Victorian Era. The philosophy of the forerunners of the Craftsman Era was quality through individual craftsman ……. not mass production.
Although the Victorian Era and the Craftsman movement both agreed in the individual artisan, their design sense couldn’t have been more different. The Victorian Era was popular for grand excess and over ornamentation, extremely decadent. The Craftsman Era of design was the polar opposite. It’s minimalist simplicity and smooth lines gave introduction to a new modern design yet without mass production methods.
The father of the Craftsman movement can arguably fall between William Morris, a poet, author, artist, and textile designer. He formed a partnership with other like minded individuals that shared in his philosophy ……… and Gustav Stickley a designer of some of the most sought after and collected furniture in the design world. Between these two men the new era of Arts and Crafts/ Craftsman Design would become the benchmark for individual pride in craftsmanship.
Interior designers specializing in Craftsman style will tell you there are some basic tenants to help you achieve a “Craftsman” look. One of them is an “open floor plan”. Quite often when demarcation of a room or space was needed…… half walls were used. This allowed for a more wide open feeling.
The focal point of the main room in a Craftsman home is always the “fireplace”. It is usually made of indigenous rock….. sometime smooth river rock or natural stone. If a more urban setting, brick can be used. The fireplace is the gathering place for families and conversation. A quality, all Craftsman homes have is “warmth”. This is established by using natural woods, with large exposed support beams. Wood was never painted. Instead it was finished with natural oils or dark stains.
Colors used in true Craftsman style encompassed natural tones with browns, dark forest greens, and beige’s. Primary bright colors had no place in Craftsman design.
In a true Craftsman home , you’d never find an overcrowding of furniture. All the pieces are very relaxing looking and homey. Utilitarian is a good way to describe Craftsman furnishings. Convenient “built-ins”, such as book cases, shelves, and window seats make for a less cluttered overcrowded look. Rich woods were the norm, as were dark rustic iron accents. Hand wrought fireplace andirons and iron beds, which were holdovers from the Victorian Era were radically redesigned for the the Craftsman Era. Where beautiful flowing lines with fancy scrolls and elaborate castings were the bench mark for antique iron beds in the 1800’s, now square tubing, straight angular lines with no elaborate castings and certainly no scrolls or curves, became the norm.
Craftsman Style redefined what the Victorian Era considered comforting. Although the look became much more modern and some say sleek, true Arts and Craft decor offers the same amount of comfort yet with a more minimalist modern twist.