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#18 - Art_ndDesign V - Arts & Crafts

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Article written by
Rosa Cortázar Meléndez

Writing of the week

To conclude with the subject of the other publications, I am going to talk to you about the Arts & Crafts movement, which arose as a reaction to the poor quality of the designs and whose term was first used in 1887 with the foundation in London of the Arts & Crafts Exhibition Society, which organized exhibitions between 1888 and 1916.

It had several features, it is not a specific style, being remarkable the inspiration in nature and medieval patterns, and the valuation of simplicity, utility, material quality and beauty, defending, as I said and as its own name says, the union of art with the craft, returning to the use of workshops instead of industries, with a collective work; in addition, it proposes architecture as a center of design, that is, where all the arts come together.

But the greatest renewal is his ideology, his ideas of the future, since his aesthetics are practically medieval, although some ideas are quite utopian, such as the disappearance of the machine. Furthermore, all that socialist and worker's spirit ended up being quite the opposite, since his designs could only be afforded by high society and the bourgeoisie; And this is something that is happening to us now, we want an eco world, to take care of ourselves and our environment with the craft, but only those with money can afford this quality, a student for example cannot afford these products, having to rely on plastic and the industrial.

Artists such as Charles Robert Ashbee, who admits the need to collaborate with industry and relate it to economic, social and artistic progress, applying the theories of Arts & Crafts to industrial design, with the idea of designing and producing objects using everything he had at his disposal, and the new machinery and modern industry could be the pillar of that production, are included here; furthermore, he believes that the object should be sincere and moral, eliminating all the accessories to fit their function.

In 1888 he created the Guild and School of Handicraft, based in a poor area of London, Whitechapel, so that new designers of humble origin could emerge, but the work system made it go into decline; as well as a printing house, which had more careful designs regarding paper, typography and illustrations.

Another was Walter Crane, writer, painter, designer and illustrator, outstanding for his illustrations of children's books, which united influences from the Japanese Renaissance and engraving, and was also related to the Pre-Raphaelites; in addition, he supported the socialist cause with pamphlets and magazines. Without forgetting the architect Charles Voysey, who was based on the principle of the comfort of the home and the functionality, designing also the decoration by that idea of the union of the arts.

The movement spread quickly through Europe and ended up influencing two of my favorite movements, Art Nouveau and Art Deco, and came to the United States with Frank Lloyd Wright, but even today it has inspired a collection by Jonathan Anderson for Loewe.

I leave you this link with information from the Victoria & Albert Museum, one of the top museums in this field of design: https://www.vam.ac.uk/articles/arts-and-crafts-an-introduction

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