rts & Crafts Movement A Reaction to the Ikeas of That Time?


The Arts and Crafts Movement began well after the Industrial Revolution, perhaps when furniture manufacturers had, to cut production cost, were cutting corners when it came to the strength of the joinery which, for the most part, was hidden anyway - so who'd know until after they'd bought and had the furniture around for a while. The company already had those folk's money - and there were plenty more customers out there who wouldn't know quality if struck in the face with it - sort of the Ikea of that era.
One of the principles of the Arts and Crafts Movement was "honesty" and visible joinery, decorated and used as a design element or not, displaying the strength of the joinery and the craftsmanship required to make them - and maybe point up the shortcomings of the "manufactured" furniture.
Just a hypothesis. What say you?
charlie b
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I agree to a point charlie. The movement also was in reaction to the French, Colonial, Louis (frilly) furniture style. The clean lines of arts~n~crafts are a beautiful thing in themselves. A friend of mine captured it "...you have to beat and mold metal to make it beautiful, you have to sculpt dirt into pottery, but wood is already beautiful...you just have to make sure you don't screw it up!...) I think that exemplifies what Morris and Stickley (and others) were saying. The clean lines and crisp joints enhance the wood without detracting from it.
IMHO
Schroeder

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charlie b wrote:

The American Craftsman style definitely has roots in the British A&C movement, which dates back to the 1860s and was indeed a reaction to the Industrial Revolution and its dehumanization of labor.
Ironically, on much of the Craftsman style furniture I see around these days, even the handmade stuff, the through tenons are fake. :-)
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boorite wrote:

While that's to be expected - cut cost by cutting quality/integrity of the joinery - but make it LOOK strong. More ironic is that Stickley and maybe even the guy who did most of the Greene & Greene stuff for the Gamble House - used SCREWS and covered them with plugs that looked like the ends of through tenons. Visible traditional joinery, or at least what looked like traditional joinery, were design elements, not for function. It seems "business and the bottom line" takes precedent (sp?) over quality and integrity almost every time. It's typically the "amateur" who makes the better quality furniture - though there are several exceptions.
charlie b
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"charlie b" wrote in message

Possibly why Gustav died bankrupt?
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Swingman wrote:

Another Arts & Crafts irony was that the ideialistic promoters of the philosophy yearned for a "workers paradise" where the builders of the furniture could make the "honest" furniture available at fair prices to the working man. However, the intensive hand labor resulted in high-quality furniture that was generally available only to the wealthy.
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charlie b wrote:

Which one ? British (Ruskin / Morris) or American (the Sticklebacks et al.) ? There's 50 years difference between them. Britain really began this in 1851, as a direct response to the Americn invasion of the Crystal Palace with all manner of complicated manufactured goods -- the real pre-Ford beginning of factory-manufacture by machine as the significant and eventually dominant influence on all manufactured goods.

The Industrial Revolution was late coming to woodworking, compared to textiles. Just look at the dates for Brunel pere's block-making machinery as a starting point.
Nor did furniture of the period suffer in quality. "Typical" working-class furniture in the UK was as well-made as anything from previous centuries. It wasn't as sophisticated as posh stuff from a century earlier, but we jerry-built houses and especially we adulterated food in a way we'd simply not yet learned to do for furniture. Furniture didn't turn cheap and nasty until around WW1, particularly involving new glues and cheap plywood.

In the US movement perhaps. The British movement was always _far_ more concerned with process and working conditions than it was with end results. Much of it was, to be honest, poor quality and amateurish (the infamous Oxford debating chamber).
Gustav Stickley is interesting here as one of the few Americans who were close to Ruskin's theories of gainful employment, compared to the others who were much more interested in the final visuals. It's also notable that Gustav work (mainly his designs, paticularly for smaller houses) was intended to be kept affordable by the "average" working man in a way that was hinted at by the British as being desirable, but which Morris had singularly failed to achieve. Other American designers (I'm thinking of Greene & Greene) had no real interest in attempting this and simply made the best designs they could for whichever soap-magnate could afford them.
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