Arts and Craft Style Furniture is Defined by Simplicity and Proportion

By Karl

Arts and craft is a furniture style that is also known as “Mission Style.” It was originally developed in England at the tail end of the Victorian era. Victorian style furniture was very large, ornate and lavish. Arts and crafts style furniture was developed as a contrast to the complexity and cost of Victorian style furniture.

The Arts and Crafts Movement

During the Victorian era, an industrial revolution took place in England which allowed manufacturers to mass produce furniture for the first time. People from all economic levels purchased these items in order to decorate their homes in the style that was popular at the time. One of the biggest problems with this trend, however, was related to the fact that factory-produced pieces of furniture did not have an overall good quality. The backlash to this issue was the resurgence of a furniture style that was simple and well-made. This is when the “arts and crafts movement” was born.

The years between 1860 and 1910 define the official arts and craft era. The leaders of this artistic style were artists and authors William Morris, Charles Voysey, John Ruskin and Augustus Pugin. The shift from the very decorative and extravagant look of the Victorian style to the simple arts and crafts style was a result of the unhappiness with the mass production of artistic items, such as furniture, in factories. The arts and crafts movement is often described as “anti-industrial” because it promoted hand-made and hand-crafted artistic items that included both furniture and items used for décor.

Arts and Crafts Style Furniture

The best two words to describe arts and crafts style furniture are: simple and proportionate.

Other typical characteristics of arts and crafts style furniture include:

  • Straightforward designs
  • Strong lines
  • No ornaments
  • No lavish carvings or designs
  • Made from hard woods
  • An emphasis on showing the grain of the wood
  • No fabric
  • Leather upholstery on chairs
  • Handmade furniture hardware

Arts and Crafts Style in America

When the arts and crafts movement made its way to the United States it was welcomed and embraced. But, many Americans could not afford to purchase handmade furniture. This is when a man named Gustav Stickley came into the picture. Mr. Stickley came up with the idea of manufacturing bits and pieces of furniture that fit the arts and crafts style, but he did not allow factory workers to assemble the furniture. Instead he utilized craftsmen and professional furniture makers to piece together finished products. The items produced by Mr. Stickley allowed the general public to purchase arts and crafts style furniture for affordable prices.

Arts and Crafts Style Today

In the 21st Century, the arts and craft style remains alive and well. Although many pieces of furniture that resemble the antique style of this artistic movement are produced in factories, it is still possible to find well-made and beautifully designed pieces that are handmade by skilled furniture craftsmen.

Arts & Crafts Style Sideboard Image provided by Revival Antiques –
Arts & Craft Style Drop Front Desk Image provided by Revival Antiques –

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