In the middle of the flourishing revivals of the Victorian period, the simplicity of Arts and Crafts designs must have seemed incongruous to the prevailing styles that were being recreated in such profusion. However, this is just what the Arts and Crafts movement set out to do. Its predominant use of oak rather than exotic hardwoods, its elements of hand chiselling and simple rather than ostentatious design sought to epitomise what exponents felt to be lacking in Victorian culture. Theirs was a return to the celebration of the skill of the artisan and a move away from mass manufacture which often imitated the handmade cabinetry the privileged classes.
The Arts and Crafts Movement emerged into public consciousness through the creation of the Century Guild in 1882. One of its founders Arthur Heygate Mackmurdo, through his links with notables like John Ruskin, his training as an architect and his work with the poor in the east end of London, set out to design and furnish public buildings in the Arts and Crafts style. Mackmurdo wanted his simple designs to be reminiscent of corporate financed designs used by the guild systems of the middle ages where a collective rather than hierarchical individual style was used in the design of its public buildings. Thus Arts and Crafts designs were to make a public statement where its art and buildings could be viewed as a celebration of the skill of the artisan rather than the preserve of the monied elite.
This celebration of the skill of the artisan can be viewed through collections of Arts and Crafts furniture in Preston , Lancashire, London and other UK dealerships.
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