The forward thinking designs of Arts and Crafts furniture
What makes Arts and Crafts furniture still seem so fresh and new today are the clean lines and new designs never really seen before at the end of the 19th century. Victoriana was very much towards the eclectic where they bought and borrowed styles from a previous age and stylistically much of the furniture of the period was Regency or Rococo revivals. Mass production also meant losing sight of anything new and returning to these old styles which manufacturers felt the new rising middle classes wanted. At a time of movements towards social reform, these retrospective mass produced pieces sent out all sorts of mixed messages to a society that was still fettered by the class system.
Arts and Crafts pioneers like William Morris wanted to send out new messages that would bring about comprehensive reform. Coupled with his own admiration for the simplicity and function of Gothic architecture, plus John Ruskin’s interest in the enjoyment and quality of hand craftsmanship, Morris felt the character of the nation should be embedded visually in these new ideas. Arts and Crafts furniture became very much linked to art and culture to embrace these concepts where simple lines, beauty and function promoted these more socialist ideas.
The firm of Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co. was established in 1861 as a collaborative venture in painting, carving, furniture and metalwork and Arts and Crafts furniture produced by them was very much in defiance of mass production. The firm had its first exhibition at the International Exhibition in South Kensington in 1862.
Arts and Crafts furniture continued to promote practicality but also architectural quality in its designs, influenced by the cabinet maker Charles Annesley Voysey who joined Morris and others in the Century Guild of Artists to create these simply moulded but visually recognisable Here at Christian Davies Antiques in Preston, Lancashire, we specialise in Arts and Crafts furniture and have many of these hand crafted pieces on show. If you live in Lancashire, Cumbria or anywhere in the north west of England, come and see our range of arts and crafts furniture.