There are certainly ideological links between a return to the simple life promoted by the Arts and Crafts Movement at the end of the 19th century and a modern preoccupation with an Escape to the Country (as the BBC television programme suggests) for many suburban dwellers at the beginning of the 21st century. Latterly as well as formerly, both were and are a direct reaction against the tedium of a life tied into a machine or technologically driven existence; and simplicity and a celebration of the individual in both cases are the order of the day.
The effect of the Arts and Crafts movement on furniture was to create a visible focus on the individual artisan and his skill that was lacking in the mass produced pieces of the time. Often made in oak, the simple lines of the cabinet, table or antique desk presented a singular design which was enhanced with iron or copper strap work, hinges and handles, and the use of plain leaded glass. In style, these pieces were a return to more serviceable furniture owned by people prior to the 17th century who could not afford and did not have the need for fine hand crafted cabinetry. Therefore Arts and Crafts furniture came to represent a celebration of the working man in contravention to the display of showier hand made pieces by the aristocracy and emerging wealthy middle classes. Thus they became a generic indictment of the class system and a cultural icon of their time.
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