Blog - decorative and design styles

Part 1: Decorative Styles of the Late 19th and Early 20th Century

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Much of the jewellery and décor items we see today are influenced by decorative and design styles of the late 19th and early 20th century. In our next series of blogs, we will provide a quick checklist to some of these influential design movements.

One of our favourite significant movements was the arts and crafts movement.

"Strawberry Thief", One of William Morris's Most Popular Repeating Designs

"Strawberry Thief", One of William Morris's Most Popular Repeating Designs

  1. Originated in Britain the late 19th century.
  2. A reaction against the lack of quality, design, craftsmanship and artistic merit found in items produced as a result of the mechanisation of the industrial revolution.
  3. John Ruskin (1819-1900) was a leading proponent of the movement and his writings greatly influenced other followers of his principles including a young William Morris whose talents as a designer of patterns for textiles and wallpaper are legendary.
  4. One of the main ideas was to create an environment whereby an individual could create a piece from start to finish, but since many different skills were required to do this the outcome was often quite crude in execution.
  5. The movement had a very strong social conscience and thought that by bringing the artist craftsman into close contact with the people they could uplift the working man from his extremely miserable existence.
  6. Amateur craftsmen were encouraged to experiment and learn in the right kind of environment by creating co-operative guilds and workshops.
  7. Sadly the movement itself was not commercially successful but its principles and theories of design and craftsmanship had a huge influence from the end of the 19th century right through to the 1920's.

Additional Resources

  1. The Arts and Crafts Movement in Canada
  2. William Morris Gallery
  3. William Morris at the Victoria and Albert Museum


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