I was 22 years old and thought this wooden settle (sofa) was the most beautiful piece of furniture I'd ever seen - in fact, I still think it's the most beautiful piece of furniture I've ever seen. Having recently moved to the USA from England, I had been an admirer of William Morris for many years but was not familiar with the American Arts and Crafts style. I instantly fell in love with the clean lines, simple elegance and fine craftsmanship that the style represented.
The more I saw, and learned, about the American Arts and Crafts style - or 'Craftsman' style as it is often called - the more I became 'hooked'.
As well as appreciating the aesthetic appearance of the items made in wood, glass and metal, I valued the ideals behind what had been a social revolution. I learnt that in England and then America, in the late 19th century, the Arts and Crafts Movement was a revolution against Victorian values, over industrialisation and the mass production of low-quality products. The philosophy behind the Arts and Crafts Movement was the recognition that the degradation of social values, which was evident through poor working conditions, poverty and the exploitation of workers, was caused by wide-spread industrialisation. The Movement strove to make art affordable, create better working conditions, and influence a climate where artists, who ranged from architects to those involved in the fine arts, were free to be creative. In the new society which the Arts and Crafts Movement hoped to influence, artists could design and create each piece of work from start to finish and pieces would be hand-made and of the best quality.
A hundred years later, in these uncertain times, it makes sense to buy one or two well made, well designed products that are useful and beautiful as they will stand the test of time, rather than mass produced items that will go out of fashion (or fall apart!) very quickly. Today the guiding principles of the Arts and Crafts Movement seem particularly poignant:
live simply, keep connected to nature, take joy and pride in work, maintain integrity and create well designed handcrafted objects that are useful and beautiful.
Since returning to England, for many years, I have dreamt of starting a business selling home interiors inspired by the style of the American and British Arts and Crafts era that I so love. Thus Arts and Crafts Living was born.
Our aim is to sell beautiful and useful products hand crafted by artists and artisans.
I hope you enjoy these items too.
With best wishes
Fiona Rose and Alex MacGregor
ARTS AND CRAFTS LIVING