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October 2011 Archives

The Designer as Craftsman

Design, Democracy, and Reform in the Arts and Crafts Movement

GMD0000_023_002.jpgThe period 1900-1930 was a time of sweeping change in the design and production of everyday objects and environments in America, encompassing everything from home architecture and décor to clothing styles.

A design movement cloaked in an aura of reform, the American Arts and Crafts era was characterized by advocacy of hand craftsmanship using simple forms, coupled with the objective of social reform. Says Kathleen Campbell, a grant writer at the U's Goldstein Museum of Design and a former curator there, "Arts and Crafts advocates such as Britons John Ruskin and William Morris and Gustav Stickley in America sought to improve the standard of design for useful objects and make them readily accessible to all. Reformers at heart, they believed that art and design could improve quality of life."

On November 9, the two-session short course Design, Democracy, and Reform: The American Arts and Crafts Movement will take participants on a tour of the era's design and social impact. Guided by Campbell and Goldstein curator Jean McElvain, participants will examine articles from the museum's collections (decorative objects, home textiles, and clothing) and photographs (architecture) that trace the flavor, themes, and design elements of the movement.