The arts and crafts movement sprang up in late 19 th century Britain and it celebrated a return to individuality and craftsmanship in art. The term is sometime misreferenced, as in Britain this became a fully established aesthetic, reformist movement that greatly influenced all the visual arts, architecture, garden design and down to furniture and interior design. In the U.S this term is used to describe that period between the Art Nouveau and the Art Deco period [about 1910-1925].
Beauty and elegance in functionality was the main point of view in this movement. They stressed the great importance of each piece being handcrafted in defiance of a world that had finally become completely industrialized; mass producing practical household artifacts and furniture with the same ease as it now produced art. Division of labor- in which one person creates only one part of the piece and then it is moved on to its next station- included no personal intervention of the designer's part. It cheapened the process for the manufacturer, kept the craftsmen in poverty and degraded the quality of the piece.
The founding of 'Morris and Company':
The famous English art critic John Ruskin was the conceptual founding father of the movement and William Morris translated these ideas into a practical artistic style. Ruskin wrote thirty-nine very heavy volumes of his theories and research that had a huge impact with the Edwardian art scene. He published his first book in 1843 and continued to write many more, among which he staunchly defends the new Pre-Raphaelite movement and the paintings of William Turner . Morris was an English author, painter and printmaker and he was prominent in the Edwardian period [from about 1858 onwards]. He drew his inspiration from the traditions of the Middle-Ages, and wanted to return art to its place as an intrinsic part of everyday life. 'Functional is beautiful' is the common quote from Morris, and in 1861 he founded “Morris and Company”, a factory for making wall hangings, colored glass pieces, wood carvings and furniture. This factory is famous for its 'S' shaped designs. Many well-known artists designed for Morris' factory, among which were the Pre-Raphaelite painters, Edward Burne-Jones and Gabrielle Rossetti. Other artists that created arts and crafts work were Charles Robert Ashbee, Walter Crane, Charles Mackintosh and T.J Cobden Sanderson. The basic idea that binds all of these diverse artists and their separate styles is their cleanly functional designs. The usual decorations are stripped away and the selfsame elements that hold the piece together act as decorations.