The furniture I design and make is inspired by the 19th century Arts and Crafts movement. That doesn’t mean it’s reproduction kitsch or a pastiche of Victorian style. Instead, it endeavours to follow the principles laid down by this group of designers, thinkers and political radicals.
The movement had its roots in the ideas of the critic and artist John Ruskin and in the teachings and work of his follower William Morris, the designer, craftsman, poet, writer and socialist. They condemned the dehumanisation of work in industrial Britain and the shoddiness of its products, and fought to release the creative powers of the worker.
Rebelling against the commercialism and vulgarity of late Victorian interior design, the Arts and Crafts movement believed that
- household items such as furniture should be simple, fit for their purpose and do their job well
- products should demonstrate “truth to materials”, for example by revealing the nature of the timber used, rather than concealing it
- construction techniques should be honest, exposing joints, say, instead of disguising a chair leg as a lion’s claw or a dolphin
- decoration and pattern should be modest and based on natural forms, rather than heavily and artificially applied
- design should be respectful of vernacular traditions and craft skills
- the designer and maker should be one and the same person, working with integrity and independence.