Keesee Associates Blog

Keep up with Keesee's latest news

The Origins of the Arts & Crafts Style

It may be popular now, but the original era of Arts and Crafts reigned from 1890 – 1925

The Arts & Crafts philosophy first developed during the Industrial Revolution when a focus on maximum efficiency and the division of labor threatened to separate man from the work of his hands. In this new era of factory production and poor working conditions, one man taught that work should be joyous and individual. He vowed to begin a “revolution through art.” When modern life began to isolate people from the world around them, John Ruskin focused on the values of living simply, returning to nature, and creating well-designed, yet affordable crafts. Thus, as these ideals translated into architectural principles, the Arts & Crafts style was born. The first Arts & Crafts building, the “Red House,” was designed in 1859 by Ruskin and fellow architect, Philip Webb. It was furnished with simplistic, hand-crafted furniture, wallpaper, tiles, and accessories that fit the distinct style of the home. Throughout the period, Arts & Crafts homes focused on individual, custom-crafted pieces and uncluttered home décor. It strove to use local building materials and maintain a style that fit with the surrounding landscape.

Although the Arts & Crafts movement reached its peak in 1910, the ideals were not forgotten. Flashy displays of wealth and luxury in the home eventually returned with the technical revolution of the 1950’s and 60’s, and design trends did not rebel against that flair until the turn of the 1990’s. At that time, a new mind set began to rise that can still be traced today, focusing on the idea that “less is more.” A more natural, clean style came into vogue and interest was reborn in the Arts & Crafts philosophy.

Due to the changing tides of design, many of the original Arts & Crafts homes were left in disrepair during the 70’s since older homes were often viewed as unfashionable or located in less than desirable neighborhoods. However, with the new appreciation for the style, many homeowners have begun to restore their home to its original state. Some would say this happens because new construction lacks the character and beauty of older architecture, but we’re here to prove that the simple, functional style of Arts & Crafts is still at work today. New construction can still embody the ideals of John Ruskin – simplicity, quality and beauty. It just takes a designer with creativity and integrity, who takes joy in the work of his hands.

The Red House   Red House Entry   Red House Interior   Red House Drawing Room

Leave a Reply