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Arts and Crafts Movement

In the latter half of the 19th century, the arts and crafts movement began in Europe. Against the backdrop of industrialization and the loss of human concerns, so strongly demonstrated by the likes of writers such as Charles Dickens, the rebellion against dehumanizing attitudes began. Where industrial products were shoddy, factory-made, assembly-line in both style and commonness, there was a need to return to items that were hand-crafted and decorative. In North America, the movement spread, characterized by a period of innovation and experimentation. This extended to all fields of design, from furniture to pots to architecture. Leaders of the movement included Gustav Stickley amd Frank Lloyd Wright, who helped restore clean lines and simplicity to the arts. This led to artists colonies being founded in which individuality and creativity predominanted. 

One major byproduct of the arts and crafts movement in America was Mission furniture. Popularized by Gustav Stickley, frames were thick, bold, angular, and overall rustic in design. Mission furniture used large planks of wood with exposed joints, that included pegs to make the pieces strong and stable. They were intentionally weatherbeaten and rustic as opposed to the glossy art nouveau style. To create this look of antique wood, special finishes were developed. At the end of the nineteenth century, Gustav Stickley produced expensive homes to fit the furniture that he had created. The homes appeared simple, consisting of a few spacious rooms, with natural woodwork and room dividers, and often brick or stone fireplaces. They included many windows to allow the passage of natural daylight. The movement also produced arts and crafts pottery and hand-forged metalware, especially hand-hammered copper. In lighting, arts & crafts employed bronze and mica shades, with copper bases, produced with warm reds and browns, that were both popular and expensive. Tiffany produced its own lines, such as book ends and desk sets, as every manufacturer sought to adopt the movement. It was only after World War I that the style began to decline, slowly replaced by the extravagance of Modernism and Art Deco. 


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