arts + crafts movement // DESIGN HISTORY
William Morris textile
Morris Honeysuckle Fabric, 1876. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The English Arts & Crafts Movement was the first in a series of styles that embraced the old-world handicraft tradition and turned away from machine-made objects and furnishings.  The movement was founded by William Morris, a famed textile designer, artist, writer, and socialist.

Morris believed that the machine separates the individual from the object he’s creating, leaving the maker devoid of the spirit of crafting.  Morris was heavily influenced by Medieval building techniques and styles, as you can see in his Red House below.


William Morris’ Red House + Taos Home

The English Arts & Crafts movement came out of a desire to bring building back to its roots before the industrial revolution.  Many early Arts & Crafts architects modeled their designs after English Medieval houses.

The American southwest experienced a similar period during the 1990s building boom which saw large-scale developments where every McMansion looks just like its uninspired neighbor.  This example from 2002 instead looks back toward the ancient cultures in Taos and other surrounding areas for inspiration.



Orchard House + Modern Arts & Crafts home

The Orchard House is a great period example, with hand-made furniture and decorative elements visible from the living area.

This home is contemporary, although it was built in the style of Arts & Crafts. The designer followed the tradition of Arts & Crafts by commissioning artisan pieces made specifically for the home.  The upholstery for the chairs was made from fabric handwoven just for this project.

The American Arts & Crafts movement started in the 1870s and went until 1925.  It included several distinct styles:

  • Shingle style houses, made popular by HH Richardson and McKim, Mead & White
  • National Park Service architecture
  • Craftsman style by Gustav Stickley and Roycroft Workshops by Elbert Hubbard, both in New York


Gustav Stickley’s Craftsman Farms + Tiny House Movement

Gustav Stickley designed Craftsman Farms as a school for boys where the art of handicraft would be taught.

The tiny house movement has become more popular as some Americans  push back on the materialistic and consumer culture. Four Lights Houses is hoping to create tiny house villages in urban areas, such as the Bay Area, where space is at a premium.  These houses would be designed to attract workers, artists, students and others who are willing to live with less at a more reasonable price.  


The Craftsman Magazine + Modern Prefab

Gustav Stickley offered actual blue prints of his Craftsman designs for free to The Craftsman magazine subscribers.

Method Homes offers not only the blue prints, but also precision-engineered prefab homes designed to be built at a lower cost using more environmentally friendly materials.


Mary Coulter’s Hopi House + Zion Visitor Center

National Park architecture featured buildings that were designed to blend into their environments by mimicking native structures.  A good example of this is seen in Mary Colter’s Hopi House located in Grand Canyon National Park.  Though this is a “modern” structure, built in 1905, but designed to resemble the designs by the Hopi tribe.

The Zion National Visitor Center built in 2005 follows these principles. Its passive heating and cooling systems were based on the designs of the cave dwelling cultures that resided in the area such as the Anasazi.

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