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Impact of the Deutscher Werkbund and the Arts and Crafts Movement on Design Essay

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Updated: Apr 16th, 2019

General overview

The Arts and Crafts movement occurred as a result of the conflict of design, structure, and materials when designers and artists refused to apply the principle of contemporary design to the architectural objects, decorations, sculpture, and installations. This became a challenge to the existing principles and the same designers that were advocating the use of inappropriate materials earlier had established new rules for the application.

In this respect, the Arts and Crafts movement in design signified the birth of the new direction in theory and practice which had drawn a wide response all over the world. The major influence of this movement can be observed in Britain and the United States of America where the major principles of this style were applied to architectural objects, installations, furniture, embroidery, and other items.

Three significant philosophical ideals of the movement

Ideals manifested in the 19th century. The ideals of the Arts and Crafts movement manifested in the 19th century included the denial of the artificial structures and decorations; the designers sought to create more natural looks and outfits to reach the naturally appropriate materials. As such, rural design is the first of the three significant ideals of this movement because the natural outfit was valued and the natural materials as well as motifs were used in the design in various applications.

The second significant ideal of the Arts and Crafts movement can be seen through the reality prism as the objects were made to look as real as possible. In this respect, some objects such as sculptures and installations were left unfinished to make them look more natural and realistic.

The same factor was applied to design where different decorative elements such as carpets, vases, wallpapers, and other items were made with the help of simple but natural ornaments that would not distract the observer’s attention from the object decorated with a particular element. The third significant ideal is the quality of materials which can be considered to have influenced the modernism as the style in architecture and design.

Besides, the quality of materials was questioned in terms of the appropriateness of materials to the objects made of them. For instance, the natural fabrics, objects made of wood and glass were introduced into the mass production whereas inappropriate materials were eliminated from usage.

To sum up, the three significant ideals of the Arts and Crafts movement manifested in the 19th century include rural elements/motifs, real/natural look which was sometimes reached through unfinished works, and quality of materials.

Reflections of the ideals of Arts and Crafts Movement. Reflections of the Arts and Crafts movement can be seen all over the world while the movement itself became the origin and inspiration for other movements and style in different types of media such as books, sculpture, furniture, installations, and architecture.

Alois Riegl from Vienna created a book Historical Grammar of the Visual Arts in 1905 (Figure 1) which reflects the rules and principles of the Arts and /crafts movement and indicates the basic forms of arts where this style can be applied. The arts was seen by this Viennese philosopher as the process because it progressed and suggested changes concepts and forms for application.

The next example of reflection of the Arts and Crafts movement can be seen in the applications by Henry Van de Velde in Nietzsche Archive, Villa Silberblick in Weimar created in 1903 (Figure 2). This can be regarded as one of the most natural and authentic looks from those created in the same period.

The author managed to apply woodworks and pastel colors to the room where nothing inappropriate can be seen. The covings are the continuing elements of the bookshelves that surround the room making it look more like a completed unit with specific lines, structures, and shapes.

The third work that reflects the tendencies and main principles of the Arts and crafts movement is the Office Swivel Chair created for the Larkin Building in Buffalo, NY by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1904 (Figure 3). The use of such a chair can be really convenient due to its mobility because of the castors which help to move the chair without lifting it up or moving it across the room and scratching the floor.

The armrests are designed for additional convenience of using this item of furniture and add to functional value and regarded as a prototype of modern office chairs.

The fourth reflection is the Thonet Bentwood Chair created in Vienna by Thonet Brothers in 1885 (Figure 4). This example can be considered the one that shaped the shapes of ordinary chairs because the designers used stream to bend the wooden details and apply them further to the furniture design. In this respect, they have contributed greatly to the chair design of the entire era in world history of art and design.

The fifth reflection of the Arts and Crafts movement is the Executive Office that was demonstrated during The Architect and Industrial Arts Exhibition in the Met, NY designed by Raymond Hood in 1929 (Figure 5). This office has the floral design on the windows as one of the major principles that governed this movement. Simplicity and naturally looking outfit.

At the same time, the combination of art and design can be seen here where the table and chairs are created as technologically advanced elements aimed at making the use of such furniture more convenient.

The sixth reflection is the Living Area of the Hollyhock House in Los Angeles, CA designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in the period of 1916 – 1921 (Figure 6). The lines of the room seem to contribute greatly to its shape, the use of woodworks makes the interior look really natural and inspired by rural motifs. Stone cladding was used for columns of the room; indirect lighting of the room is applied to reach the effect of inner light and make all the angles and corners visible.

Conclusion

The arts and Crafts movement reshaped the design of the Baroque and rococo furniture and buildings with the help of critical evaluation of the decoration and installation elements applied to the design objects of the time.

The application of the movement ideas and main principles became a world-wide trend and designers and artists all over the words tried to use more natural and appropriate materials, unfinished looks, and rural motifs and elements in various types of media they were creating.

The three significant ideals of the movement were effectively reflected in architecture, furniture, books, and other objects designed by Alois Riegl, Henry Van de Velde, Frank Lloyd Wright, and many other famous designers in different countries.

Nietzsche Archive. Villa Silberblick, Weimar. Henry Van de Velde. 

Figure 2: Nietzsche Archive. Villa Silberblick, Weimar. Henry Van de Velde. 1903.

Historical Grammar of the Visual Arts Book.

Figure 1: Historical Grammar of the Visual Arts. Alois Riegl. Vienna. 1905.

Office Swivel Chair created for the Larkin Building in Buffalo, NY by Frank Lloyd Wright
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IvyPanda. "Impact of the Deutscher Werkbund and the Arts and Crafts Movement on Design." April 16, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/impact-of-the-deutscher-werkbund-and-the-arts-and-crafts-movement-on-design/.

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IvyPanda. 2019. "Impact of the Deutscher Werkbund and the Arts and Crafts Movement on Design." April 16, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/impact-of-the-deutscher-werkbund-and-the-arts-and-crafts-movement-on-design/.

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IvyPanda. (2019) 'Impact of the Deutscher Werkbund and the Arts and Crafts Movement on Design'. 16 April.

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