Sunday, September 14, 2008

Victorian Era, B.

The Victorian Era was directly impacted and influenced by the technological advancements being made. The style of this time period was a mere hodgepodge and mixture of previous styles. With this there was a certain freedom that some may argue has yet to be seen since. As the Industrial Revolution progressed, it became faster and cheaper to mass produce machine-made products that had been previously hand-crafted. The textiles were no longer designed by a craftsman, but were being created by factory workers with no artistic background. This process caused a decrease in quality, yet a more efficient cost effective way to produce goods. Ornamentation was often used to “conceal” imperfections in machine-made goods (Pile). Because of this convenience, ornamentation was used in excess and become the norm. With the growth of factories also came the growth of the middle class. The poor became wealthier, and with their new money, wanted to live the extravagant lifestyle. As they saw it, this meant acquiring large amounts of goods; the more the better.

The blend of styles, construction methods, and classes shaped the time period and style we know as the Victorian era. With technology advancing, it was an interesting time for experimentation with new methods, materials, and equipment. Specific examples of this technology is the power loom which efficiently produced textiles, and cast iron which was essential in mass producing “carved” ornamentation.
Although they brought efficiency, did these technological advancements have a negative or positive effect on the styles of the Victorian Era? What were some of the positive and negative stylistic qualities that came from this period?

20 comments:

olivia said...

The technological advances had both a positive and negative effect on the Victorian Era. For starters, the Victorian Era was at the height of the Industrial Revolution and the style was not considered high design. There was a lack of quality that some people didn't like. For instance, if there was a flaw in an object during this time, the solution was to cover it with ornamentaton. On the positive side, things were made faster, cheaper and in more abundance through the use of technology. Public buildings were updated, with comfort and charm being taken into consideration. Like in England, in America, machinery being made, such as the cotton gin, increased function and productivity. Another positive outcome of technological advances was the creation of pattern books. This allows a wider range of people the ability to more easily choose a form of house they like.

Meredith J. said...

There were both positives and negatives that came out of the Victorian Era. During this time, with the boom from the Industrial Revolution, the factories grew and were able to facilitate new jobs for the poorer folk who moved into the cities to find better and higher paying jobs. In 1860, 80% of Americans relied solely on their own farms and agriculture, but by 1900, 40% of Americans had moved into the city to work in the factories. (Pile) But with the influx of people and size came this idea of quantity over quality. Things were no longer made by skilled artisans who spent hands-on time with each piece, but were rather made in mass quantities and all looked exactly the same. But not all quality was lost; there were still the few artisans out there who were making hand-made things. But, also on the positive, as trades were being set up with outside countries that could now import and export goods, we were able to create pieces that included influences from those countries (i.e. Japan, Egypt, India, etc. {Meikle}) The larger factories meant more jobs, which helped the poorer folks earn some form of money, which in turn helped the creation of the quantitative items and helped to spread around the new styles being created.

Parahita Rachmani said...

One of the main characteristics of the Victorian style is the eclecticism of its design. The positive side of this is that designers and craftsmen began to think outside of the box and explore a lot of ideas. Buildings were upgraded for entertainment as well as for privacy, and furniture was more upholstered for more comfort. However, heavy ornamentation was also favored at this time, which made the pieces looked overly designed. In addition, most of the goods were machine- produced therefore the quality was lessened even though the machine actually expedited the manufacturing process and lowered the production cost. Although the lack of quality became an issue during this period, mass production allowed more and more people to afford furniture and other essential items to improve their homes and lives in general. Hence, the middle class society emerged during this era and the gap between the rich and the poor was not as visible and distant anymore.

Jessica Brake said...

I think that the Victorian Era brought both positive and negative stylistic qualities. Being that the Industrial Revolution was partially responsible for the development of mass-production, leading to the opening of many factories, that in turn helped characterize the Victorian Era. Facotries, in my opinion, carried both positive and negative affects. For one, they allowed for faster and cheaper production. This was positive because it led to many job opportunities for the lower class, therefore helping them climb the social ladder. Another positive quality about the Victorian Era was the development of pattern books. Since factory machines were being used it was easier for multiple people to buy the same piece of furniture, leading to the spread of styles. Pattern books could be sent all across the country allowing many people to have access to the latest trends.
On a negative standpoint the development of factories lessoned the need for skilled artisans. Furniture pieces were not made with the same hand craftedness and talent that they once were. Also, factories were turning to children as employees. They were able to pay children less and work them more, getting more for their money. Children were smaller than adults, making them more desirable for factory work since they could fit in the tiny spaces and fix broken parts of the machines that adults could not reach.

Veronica said...

Thanks to Industrial Revolution and the introduction of machinery, every sort of thing was now able to be produced faster. Thanks to machines and faster production, it became easier to have more items available and generally just collect "stuff".
The Victorian Style is all about collecting goods, from furnitures and decorations to any kind of items that could be literally shown in the house. As a matter of fact, the more someone had, the better and the wealthier the family was seen in society. A rich family during the Victorian Era was supposed to have as many things as possible and put them all together to create very busy interiors.
I believe that all the pieces of furniture and decorations of the Victiorian Style, even though they look so elaborate and seem hard to make, were actually produced in a factory. We sould look at them, the same way we look at items produced nowadays in China and the many South-Eastern Asian countries. Chair components made and assembled in China today are not much different from chair components made and assembled during the Victorian period in Europe or US.
So, I believe that the many technological advancements and the machines used to produce furniture and decorations made all the items lose some of their qualities. One of them is the uniqueness of each handmade piece: artisans were in fact able to create few pieces that were unique and that had that handmade quality that machines could not create. On the other hand, machines were able to produce many items with worse aesthetical qualities.
In conclusion, the Victorian Era was just the beginning of a society that beautifies and appreciates mass-produced goods.

Amy Clark said...

I believe that the technological advancements from the Industrial Revolution had an overall positive effect on Victorian styles. These advancements opened up avenues for creativity and therefore, new materials, methods and products were developed. One of the positive advancements was the ability to bend thin stripes of wood into curved shapes using steam (Pile). This allowed for a wider variety in furniture construction and styling details. An additional positive result was the capability to produce a wide array of patterns onto textiles as well as wallpaper. The negative aspect to me was how people utilized these new products and technologies by "over" decorating. For example, they incorporated pattern onto flooring, walls, furniture, window treatments and even the ceiling within a signle room. In addition, they filled the rooms with an abundance of decorative objects. The development of a variety of patterns was positive but using many different patterns within on space was negative.

Kelsey said...

I believe the technological advances had both a positive and a negative effect on the Victorian Era. First of all, there might not have been a Victorian era at all, had their not been those technological advances. But second, there was supply and there was demand. The supply was the rapidly developing technology which was peaking in advancments allowing the Victorian Era to take off, while at the same time because of the technological factories, there was a demand. The demand was a middle class who wanted products which resembeled the wealthy, yet were cheap. This effected the quality of design. But at the time, its hard to say whether this "craftsmenship" really mattered to the middle class buyer. Its the later effect that became negative. Now in todays society, arguable because of the Industrial Revolution's technological advances China and India are taking off in mass production of cheap goods. But what I believe about the Victorian era is that they took design to an ecclectic place, whether good or bad, but it is a style of design we can learn from today. Without technology this would have not been possible. So ultimately I view the technological advances as having a positive effect on the Victorian Era.

Katie Bluhm said...

The Victorian Era was the starting point for cheap products. From that period on, our society has been focused on cheaper – faster. We aren’t concerned with quality nearly as much as we did before the Victorian Era. Almost everything today is made by machines – simply because machines allow products to be made faster and more inexpensively. When we as consumers go shopping for a product, we look for the best deal. In the example of furniture: when shopping for a dining room table set, we have the option of going to a high prestige furniture store, or a bargain depot such as Wal-Mart. At the high end furniture store, we will find beautifully, hand-crafted tables whose prices range from a several hundred to thousands of dollars. While at Wal-Mart, there are table sets of five for less than one-hundred dollars. Now, when the consumer chooses which set to purchase, they are likely to pick the hundred-dollar Wal-Mart set. It functions the same as the more expensive table set, but is a fraction of the cost. It may not look as fancy, or be as comfortable, but it still looks presentable and welcoming. Why not pay a fraction of the cost for a table that suits all of your needs? That was the thinking behind the Victorian Era, and the cause of today’s greedy wasteful behavior. We would rather buy something in the moment for the best deal, while we should really be thinking about the long run, because more often then none we will have to replace the cheap object a few years down the road. The Victorian Era was the beginning of cheap, low quality merchandise that has warped our society for the worse.

Chris Jones said...

The development of the machine had both positive and negative influences on the Victorian Era. Obviously, the invention of such machines made it possible to mass-produce goods in a more cost- and time-efficient manner. However, what sometimes resulted was a decrease in quality. This caused an uproar in some people, believing that covering up a defect in production with a piece of ornamentation was not a good idea. In my opinion, as long as a product does what it was made to do (it's functionality), then covering up a minor machine fluke should not matter, just as long as it was still aesthetically pleasing to the viewer. Without these inventions, I truly believe "normal" people would not be able to have things such as wallpaper, readily available electricity, bentwood furniture, and so on. I will say, however, that we have come a long way with our idea of "more is better". It's interesting to see what this culture used to deem as a wealthy appearance is now just clutter. I think my grandmother is still stuck in the Victorian Era...no joke! lol :]

Julie said...

I think the Industrial Revolution was again beneficial and had a positive effect on the Victorian Era. The introduction of so many new machines and techniques made way for so much more creativity and ideas. Unfortunately, this led to the people becoming consumed in having the new productions that caused spaces to be over done in heavy fabrics, bulky furniture, and "stuff". Designer furniture became drenched in ornamentation and detailing made through the factories that left the peices with poorly crafted work that came straight off the industrial belt. This left people unhappy with the lack of skill and origninality to the point that some rejected the new works of the Industrial Revolution. Although, efficency and the number of jobs provided to the people was being increased the poeple were loosing sight of their ideals and values. Consumers were using their wealth to gain status not value the work being created.

maggie clines said...

The victorian era is what it is, there is no way of knowing what it would have been like or what could have been done differently. This era was a reaction to the Industrial Revolution, and this was the only way people knew how to react to it. So in turn, they began to consume more and more because now they had the ability to do so. Though this was a negative effect, causing the over ornamentation and over consumption of goods, it was done because that was what was thought to be appealing. Another negative effect from the Industrial Revolution, was that things were no longer created by artisans, but rather people with no artistic background. This in turn led to the decrease in quality and hand-made pieces.
I believe that from this over indulgence of material items, the reaction that came after was a positive effect, which drove people away from the excess items they accumulated. Other positive things included the economical and efficient production of goods. They were cheaper and faster, allowing for more people to have them. All of which produced more jobs giving the lower class the ability to gain status and self respect.

Carrie R. said...

The Industrial Revolution had both negative and positive effects on the Victorian era. Although this new technology of machines made it easier to produce things faster, cheaper, and more efficiently, it also caused people to become engulfed in the idea that more was better. The correlation of money & heavy ornamentation was still apparent because of what the people had been used to during the Industrial Revolution. People still wanted to prove their status by having things like heavy fabrics draped in every place possible, and just “stuff” in general in their living spaces. But through this process of the transition from the Industrial Revolution to the Victorian era, designer s began to think in different ways and became more original in their works. People began to focus more on charm and comfort rather than just heavy ornamentation. Because of this, the middle class began to rise and the identifiable differences between the rich and the poor became less apparent. The industrial revolution also enabled more job opportunities for the less fortunate.

gnjones15 said...

I think the impact of the machine on Victorian design was inevitable. The introduction of the machine shaped every other aspect of daily life. It even went as far as to power the growth of the middle class. It is just like a new fad where something is fresh and new and everyone had to have one. Design was mass manufactured to deal with the high demand of the people. Of course the aesthetic of the design became dull because it was no longer a personalized piece of art but merely the work of a production line. I think this type of fabrication did make the objects lose value. But in all honesty we would still follow the same trend today. It is easy to look back and criticize but who knows, maybe one day people will criticize today’s designs. I do have to say though the over ornamentation of the Victorian Era makes me sick. This would definitely have to be my least favorite design style. Right there next to Rococo and Gothic, but hey that’s just me.

Kayla.E said...

These technological advancements had both a negative and positive effect on the Victorian Era. I mean the Victorian style was known for its eclectic style and the technological advancements in machinery made that possible. Now whether to say that was a good thing or a bad thing is really a personal preference. Most people viewed this era as something that took away from the artist and designers, and in some ways it did. With everything starting to be mass produced they didn't need a designer there to tell them exactly how things were supposed to look that could basically do anything that they wanted to the piece. Also some people saw mass production as cheap and not such a good thing, but opened a lot of doors for the middle class. This mass production allowed not only the weathy to own nice things but also the middle class. The positive about the Victorian Era was the beginnings of mass production, it saved both time and money. The negative would have to be that it was too ornate, it was almost like over kill. They over did everything on the interior, even when the manufacturer would mess up on a piece of furniture they would just slap some sort of ornamentation on there to cover it up. Also when using these machines they used children not adults to operate them, just for the simple fact that they could pay them less and their hands were smaller.

Molly Rowland said...

With the Victorian Era, and its abundance of technilogical advancements, came both positive and negative changes.

Some postive effects caused by the various technilogical advancements was the efficiency in which products were being made. Furthermore, the products were much cheaper, and therefore, were more available to all classes instead of just the wealthy. This instantly created a feeling of equality among people. Futhermore, people were united due to the abundance of jobs in factories.

Unfortuntely, the negative effects of these advancements directly corresponed with the postive ones. For example, with the mass production at a lower cost came a lack of quality. The designer was also no longer in the picture like previous years before the Victorian Era. Also, as stated before, there was an abundance of jobs during the Victorian Era, however, with these jobs came the overcrowding of cities.

Overall, it seems that for every positive outcome a negative one is soon too follow.

Elizabeth Chaffin said...

The technological advances set forth by the industrial revolution paved the way into the Victorian era. With mass production of goods which were once produced by hand, quality declined and craftsmanship was a thing of the past. Imperfections made by these said machines were covered with ornamentation because they believed that it would conceal what had been done. As previously when mistakes were made by hand, the artisan would simply start over.
Inventions made it easier for other aspects of design to evolve. Larger machines such as looms, made it faster and more efficient to weave large textiles. Elevators gave way to the allowance of "skyscrapers" of the Victorian age, thus creating verticality in cities which allowed a large population to occupy the space. With this, an infiltration of factory workers and others alike populated the urban areas and acquired the ''cheap'' products produced in the factories, beginning to live a similar life to that of the upper class.

Christa said...

I'd have to say that, In my opinion, these technological advancements of the Victorian era were a pro. That's not necessarily meen that I’m a fan of the style. But I’m extremely impressed by the extent of their experimentation. Its sheer gaudiness shows a time period when people were passionate about their world and all of it’s creative possibilities. Every facet of culture and design was pushed to it’s greatest limit. People had a confidence in themselves and their ability to play a role in the world they lived. I find it difficult to look down on an age that had such passion, no matter how ugly many of their designs were. This Victorian style reminds me of our sketchbooks. They are not beautiful nor expertly crafted, they are merely the process of us shooting out as many ideas as possible for the mere purpose of coming up with ideas. And from these sketches, Victorian style, we have ideas and processes for creating well crafted ideas later on. Another pro that we cannot overlook is the fact that the Victorian era was a gift to the common man. Because things were so cheaply produced, all people had access to materials. This was implemented through patterns for objects, furniture, and even entire houses. Because new materials were constantly being invented, everyone had access to more variety. A deffinite con to all of this was the labor conditions. But like most people wrote before me,this made way for labor laws, street lights, etc. Often times, a bad condition has to get to an extreme before anyone will do anything about it.

J_Ayares said...

Any amount of progress in a given area can be subject to a great deal of controversy. Some see the changes as positive, while others see them as negative. In the process of improving one area, other areas are often neglected. In following this trend, the technological advancements during the Victorian Era brought both positive and negative changes to the style of the period. For one, the beginning of mass production made goods less expensive and more readily available, while also allowing a greater variety of designs and alterations. Therefore, a wider variety of people were able to afford luxury items. Also, due to the greater ease and emphasis on production rather than craft, it was much easier to focus more on comfort in design. However, in spite of these positives, mass production also led to many negative changes. Most importantly, the production of so many goods in such short amounts of time led to a significant decrease in the quality of the goods. To cover up this lack of quality, more and more excessive amounts of ornament were used. Victorian style came to be very over-the-top and gaudy because of this. Everything taken into consideration, status symbols shifted to focus on the amount of furniture and other goods one owned rather than the craftsmanship or style of those goods.

Lindsey Calvin said...

I agree that there were both positive and negative effects on design that came with the Victorian era. Obviously production increased during the Victorian Era since the Industrial Revolution had just occurred. As a result more people were able to obtain high class decorative objects because they were less expensive. They were less expensive because they were being mass produced by machines instead of being made by hand. The negative aspect to this though is the quality of the products that were being produced. No longer were decorations and furniture being handcrafted so they didn't have the attention to detail that they had before the Industrial Revolution. Also flaws in furniture were easier to cover up by applying machine made decoration. Along with the Victorian era came changes in the style of interiors and furnishings. A negative style change would be that now interiors were much more cluttered because in that era more was better. WIth this era came a variety of new styles such as the adirondack and shingle styles and new building types such as the skyscraper.

Shannon S said...

These advances in technology in the Victorian Era have both positive and negative effects. On the positive side furniture and other products were made cost efficiently. This gave the middle class the opportunity to afford nicer possessions. It made the poor richer. However, the negative aspects of this situation is that the machines were making all of the products, cutting out the designer as part of the process. Most people did not like this, and of course there were errors and flaws in the products. To fix this problem, they used ornamentation to cover the flaws. So although the product was cheaper, the quality was not as good.
A positive stylistic quality was that of the patterns. They were heavy, elaborate and colorful. However, there are some negative stylistic qualities as well, such as, the color schemes in homes being very dark. This did not help with the natural light aspect either. Darker colors make the room look dark, and also gives an uptight formal feeling.

This blog is intended for the interior design students in the college of design at the University of Kentucky. It was created with the intent to present students with information, providing them with a channel for contemplation and discussion.