Saturday, February 10, 2007

William Morris and the Arts and Crafts Home

"If I were asked to say what is at once the most important production of Art and the thing most to be longed for, I should answer, A beautiful House"--William Morris, "Some Thoughts on the Ornamented Manuscripts of the Middle Ages," 1894

With sumptuous illustrations and well-researched prose, this book is a thorough joy. The authors have done an excellent job of transmitting William Morris' philosophy of home decor through photographs and facsimiles of his work, while at the same time giving life to the work through numerous anecdotes about his life and work.
The book begins with the story of William Morris: his personal and professional life, with particular focus on William Morris and Co.--the company he founded along with several friends in order to create a space where artisans could create true works of Art for the decoration of houses. Morris hoped to offer an alternative to the gaudy, poor quality assembly-line goods that were so prevalent as a result of the industrial revolution, as well as to give artists an opportunity to make a living wage while preserving ancient crafts. Unfortunately, paying artisans good wages for their work meant pricing goods fairly, and the book also highlights Morris' disappointment at the fact that the goods he and his friends produced were generally much more expensive than commercialy produced products.
The last quarter of the book is devoted to case studies of contemporary homes that integrate William Morris' principles of decoration and design into a more modern design ethic. The results are very inspiring and help to give homeowners and useful ideas for how to incorporate William Morris' designs without turning their homes into museums devoted to displaying unadulterated Arts and Crafts design.

1 comment:

Gypsy Purple said...

Sounds like a great book
Thanks for sharing