Monday, September 17, 2007

The Aesthethic Movement

The Aesthetic movement was a rebellion against the heavy ornamentation and mass production of goods that was introduced after the Industrial Revolution. The first two key players of the Aesthetic Movement were John Ruskin and William Morris. They both beleived that all of the technology and new furnishings of the Victorian had caused a great seperation between the art and the artist. They felt that the true beauty of crafting a piece of furniture or creating an original design had been lost to the machine. The new designs of the Aesthetic movement were very referential to nature and not to the latest fashion of displaying how much wealth someone possessed through the amount of ornamentation and fabric draped on anything that would stand still.
John Rustic was mainly a writer on the theory of arts and crafts, while William Morris was one of the designers who actually implemented these theories. He is most known for his furniture design as well as patterns. In addition to his designs , Morris was greatly involved with rebelling against capitalists whom he believed to have created the unequality between classes due to the mass production of goods.
Furthermore, I belive that at some point "stuff just becomes stuff" unless there is something meaninful about where goods come from or how they were created. I believe that William Morris and John Ruskin had great ideas about reuniting the artist with the art.
I think a perfect comparison to the Aesthetic movement's rebellion against the Victorian Era, is today's rebellion against unsustainable buildings as well as unrenewable products. The Victorian Era brought so much happiness to the people that were finally able to afford things they never dreamed of and became the new "middle class". People came to realize that possessions do not hold as much meaning when they are so easily accessible. Today, we have every demand at such convience that we forget the simple things in life. We have become so advanced that we forget that nature is the only reason we are here in the first place. We have all been so comfrotable with today's convientient technology that we forget about the issues it brings, much like the loss of craftsmenship. I wonder what John Ruskin and William Morris would think off today's world and where they would steer design because of our environmental issues? What do you think?

10 comments:

Audrey said...

This is such a good question but it is difficult for me to put it into context. I am having trouble because I feel that there is nothing natural about solar panels (or any energy preserving design technology for that matter except maybe windows). I think that during the Aesthetic movement we began to love the LOOK of nature and now we are learning to RESPECT nature. In many ways design is becoming more industrial these days. So with that said John Ruskin and William Morris would probably hate a lot of what we are doing. In theory they might love our reverence to the natural world but when it comes to our very industrial aesthetic they would probably be very sad to know that their craftsmanship is a dieing art.
There is truth in the fact that the common man cannot afford what is cutting edge. Just like well-crafted designs were once out of reach during the Aesthetic movement; sustainable products are out of our reach today.
Still, I wonder if we are in the state of a rebellion. Most of my family and friends could care less about sustainable design (unless of course it saves them money); but if it looks nice and it’s the popular fashion they have to have it. Could it be that designers are the main crusaders for sustainable design? I think that the Aesthetic Movement was about aesthetics and quality but our modern day movement is more about ethics and survival.

Kasey said...

I can't say that with the background on Ruskin and Morris we have been given, that I could discern where they would stand on environmental issues. I would assume that due to their original belief of the machine being "bad" that they would use today's pollution issues, lack of natural resources, and other negative effects on the environment to furthur advance their positions against machinery. However, in later years, Morris concluded that that the machine could not be done away with and instead needed to be mastered.
In terms of our design today, Ruskin and Morris would be fighting the same battle that they fought in their time. However, now they would inevitably be in a losing position. Our technology and industry has become so advanced that handcrafted objects come from very few sources, generally specialty artists and countries with poor economies. Furthermore, everyday objects such as tables and chairs, are even less abundant in terms of the products that are hand crafted. For the most part, works of art and small memorabilia are the extent of handcrafting.
Also, similar to what was occuring during their time, handcrafted items continue to (for the most part) be available only to the affluent and elite. This again puts them in a losing position, as far as Morris's rebellion against capitalism goes. But who knows, if he had seen the fall of the USSR maybe he would realize the faults of socialism, much like he came to realize the benefit of machinery.
Going back to sustainable vs. traditional materials, fundamentally, they are all in some way created or changed by machinery and technology which places Ruskin and Morris on neither side.

jessica said...

I'm not sure they would really have an impact or any kind of say about the enviroment. They were more concerned with returning to quality and hand made goods and minimizing ornimentation. If anything I would think they wouldn't like the world of sustainable design due to the fact alot of the products are prefabricated and made out of plastics to look like woods. They would not like this sense of "fakeness" and would again what to return back to the natural materials and not use things new fabricated materials.
I mean I see where there may be a connection since they look at nature for inspiration but they won't really concerned with the amount of trees that were cutting down to make their goods.

Audrey said...

After giving this question a bit more thought and taking into consideration what we talked about in class I feel that perhaps we are in a state of change that is indeed comparable to that of the aesthetic movement. While I still do not believe that Morris or Ruskin would like our modern day aesthetic I do think they would be comforted to know that the designers of today are just as committed to benefiting the good of mankind. We learned that Ruskin regarded design with a sense of reverence. In many ways Ruskin considered Design to be an issue of ethics. He would certainly be proud to know that industrial power is beginning to be used for the good of man. He might even be impressed by a drastic improvement in the quality of products produced by machines.

SBSull2 said...

The Aesthetic movement was implemented to depart from the machines that later tainted our environment. John Ruskin and William Morris, would not support the technology used to implement the new "green" way of thinking. BUT with the way things are today, they would probably realize a need for innovations to preserve the nature that inspired their designs in the first place. They were all about a return to hand craftsmanship, to make items unique and what's more unique than nature, so I'm sure they would want to preserve it. How they would go about doing it is a different question.

Laurel said...

Today's "Green movement" can be compared to the Aesthetic Movement, but I don't think in the terms that were discussed. Ruskin, Morris, and other reformers of their time were rebelling against something new - the technological innovations of the Industrial Revolution - and desired to return to the traditional methods of production. Today, with the Green movement, we are not necessarily rebelling against something new, rather trying to correct a big mistake that we have been making all along by using materials and processes that are harmful to the environment. I think that if Ruskin and Morris were alive today, they would have completely different standpoints. Machine technology and mass production are staples of our economy and our culture, and it would be unrealistic to attempt to go back to the days when every rug, tapestry, or piece of china was handcrafted. As far as the issue of Green and sustainable design, I am sure that Ruskin and Morris would do everything they could to make advances in sustainability. Although I am sure they would recognize the need for new technology, I believe they would also blame a lot of our environmental problems on the development of the machines and processes that they so adamantly opposed.

Lauren Fleming said...

I am really not sure about how they would react. Becuase of the lack of technology in their time I am sure that their understanding of the subject would be limited. Due to a lack of knowledge about the environment we have put ourselves in this mess, and now we must get out of it. With the pace of today's world, reverting back to the simplicity of hand crafted goods would not be practical. Almost everything on the store's shelves is in high demand, and high demand means faster production. Faster production yeilds more pollution. So really in order to correct our mistakes we must adapt and compromise. It would be a huge step back to regain the value of a single item. Granted, it would be nice if things had more meaning and the air was cleaner.

Lauren Fleming said...

I am really not sure about how they would react. Becuase of the lack of technology in their time I am sure that their understanding of the subject would be limited. Due to a lack of knowledge about the environment we have put ourselves in this mess, and now we must get out of it. With the pace of today's world, reverting back to the simplicity of hand crafted goods would not be practical. Almost everything on the store's shelves is in high demand, and high demand means faster production. Faster production yeilds more pollution. So really, in order to correct our mistakes we must adapt and compromise. It would be a huge step back to regain the value of a single item. Granted, it would be nice if things had more meaning and the air was cleaner.

NBUSHdesign said...

Unfortunately, I do no think the comparison between the Aesthitic movement and todays green design as strong. Yes, green design is growing but it hasn't yet reach the masses and created the snowball affect that the aesthetic movement did. What building on campus is green!? I thank the world for the aesthetic movement when I enter my apartment and lay on my brand new box springs and mattress, or the sofa, or the wool rug. But then I start to cuss when I see my favorite Porsche model drive by me on the street. Sometimes I wonder if this great divide is really th best for society? Are these capitalist ways and huge gaps in people the reason we can not get the green design movement really going? Who's to say if I was not in the position to barely be able to pay rent (kind of) that I wouldn't spend more time educating people on green design.

I think Ruskin and Morris would still hate todays world looking at all of our cheaply made, imitation, reproduced products. I think they may take a different course and promote green design to help create unique items and spaces from these not to often used materials.

Kasey said...

Whoa kids...we're talking about the wrong thing...the Aesthetic movement was not Ruskin and Morris...that was the Arts and Crafts...they were not the same, they just happened at the same time.

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