The Arts & Crafts design movement in the UK had its heyday between 1880 and 1910 and could be seen in furniture, silverware, architecture, glass, jewellery and wallpapers.

The movement represented somewhat of a rebellion to the production line techniques that had grown out of the industrial revolution of the late 18th and early 19th century. For its exponents, Arts & Crafts saw a return to the type of workshop environment where one individual was responsible for the design and manufacture process from inception to completion. The maker would possess all the necessary skills, as opposed to there being a number of ‘operatives’, each of whom might only be involved in one stage of the manufacture.

In terms of furniture, the pieces of this period often incorporated copper fittings and art nouveau motifs, taking inspiration from nature and including forms such as roses, tulips, hearts, squares, seed and teardrop shapes.

Some of the leading English designers and makers of the period include William Morris, Ernest Gimson, Gordon Russell, Robert ‘Mouseman’ Thomson, Stanley Webb Davies, Charles Ashbee and Philip Webb.

In Scotland, we had Robert Lorimer in Edinburgh and, of course, several talented artists and designers who worked in the ‘Glasgow Style’ such as Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Margaret Macdonald, E.A. Taylor, Jessie King. Many of these Glasgow designers had an association with the Glasgow School of Art. We’ll discuss the ‘Glasgow Style’ in more detail in a future Blog.

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