A Brief History of the Arts and Crafts Movement

In October 1888, the Arts and Crafts Movement was founded by a small group of English philosophers, artists and architects. Over the next few decades, the name would help to effectively unite social reform, architecture, art and craftsmanship across Britian eventually speading out to Europe and America.


The society's main goal was to "turn our artists into craftsmen and craftsmen into artists," as said by illustrator, designer and the Arts and Crafts Movement's founding president Walter Crane. The craftsman style ethics from the movement were based from the mid-1800s writings of social thinker and prominent art critic John Ruskin.


William Morris, often referred to as the father of the Arts and Crafts movement was an admirer of Ruskin and skilled at a variety of crafts. He took these ideals to call for a social and economic reform through an intergration of art and labor in society. His way of summing up beautiful in arts and crafts was "Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be useful."


By the 19th century, the Arts and Crafts ideas and convictions of William Morris were carried over to America and greatly influenced Ernest Gimson, Ernest Barnsley and Sidney Barnsley which would lead to the revolutionary development in 20th century furniture.

Detail from a season ticket for The Arts & Crafts Exhibition Society, by Walter Crane, England, UK, 1890. Museum no. E.4164-1915. © Victoria & Albert Museum, London