Monday, September 22, 2008

Aesthetic Movement B

The idea of the Aesthetic Movement was to encourage people to turn away from machines and remember the days when the designer played every role in the design process. It is important to appreciate the work and effort put into a specific design. That value is lost when mass produced with machinery. Writers and designers of this time wanted the public to support the work of the artists opposed to the factories. Designers wrote books and published catalogues to simply inspire readers to use their imaginations and support hand craftsmanship. English writer and art critic, John Ruskin, heavily admired the crafts of the Middle Ages, and wanted to help bring that handiwork back through social change (Raizman 107). He encouraged designers to produce designs that reflected pride and craftsmanship (Raizman 108).
In this period in time, the public began to dislike the way their economy was running. Factories mass produced furniture in hopes to lower the cost so the middle class could afford to furnish their homes with the new fashion trends. “The development of the Modern movement can be seen as the battle for and against the machine (Tate 257).” Some people enjoyed the cost efficient pieces of furniture being mass produced because they were abundant. However, others believed machines took the designer out of the design process. The buyer may have to pay slightly more in cost, but they receive a high quality handcrafted product in return. Did the Aesthetic movement have an impact on design throughout history? These people rejected the thought of bettering our technology with machines because they thought it took away from the craftsmanship of the current designers. Do you think our advanced technology today sometimes takes away from the craftsmanship? The goal of this movement was to return value to the complex design process, and appreciate designers of the age. Do we sometimes take for granted the thought process and amount of effort it takes to design a single piece of furniture?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Aesthetic Movement

While the creation of the machine and the fine tuning of the production line were considered by most a positive development during the Industrial Revolution, others saw this as a movement away from craftsmanship and personalization. After the rise of the Victorian Era in design, where individuals could go as far as to order a new home from a catalogue, intellectuals like John Ruskin wanted to return to simpler ways of creating great art and design. Ruskin was an English writer and art critic who held a high regard for the Middle Ages and the older Gothic style (Raizman, 107). He held to the theory that the boom of industrialization lead to a growth in materialism and eventually resulted in poverty, inequality, and misery. Ruskin believed that one should take extreme pride in their work and although it does take longer to finish, the work is more valuable because of the imperfections and the interaction with the human hand. He believed machine created objects were too uniform and drone-like, lacking in individuality. John Ruskin hated Paxton’s Crystal Palace because it embodied everything he disliked about the Industrial Revolution. Although he was a critic he had no specified style or set of rules for designers other than the work be a “unique creation reflecting the skill, pride, and effort of the craftsman” (Raizman, 108). We have discussed many times whether the Industrial Revolution had a harmful or helpful effect of the population. Now consider whether machines ruined the art itself. Do you think a move toward the old way of doing things and the appreciation of skill and workmanship of the craftsman was necessary after the standardization of design? After all, design follows a path of lows to highs. Do you think it was time to come back down to the roots of craftsmanship again?

Aesthetic Movement C

The Victorian era made way to mass production; to increase efficiency but leading to the decrease of true designs. Much of the designs love was lost in the level of skill and heart put into the making of each designs. Most of the furniture and work being created was hot off the industrial belt which wasn’t of the best quality. The expanding consumer oriented middle class was losing sight of the care put into the designs looking just to increase their status by accumulating as much “stuff” as possible like furniture dripping in detail and ornamentation. Although the factories made way for many job opportunities, and new way of supplying demand it led to some conflicting attitudes. John Ruskin placed his concerns in his writings and William Morris put his in activities like, the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. The pair placed the issues of design and production within a new ethical framework based upon an almost religious attitude linking craft, art, and social reform. They criticized the dehumanizing aspects of mechanization and increasing division of labor in factories which were dedicated to the social benefits of handicraft (Raizman 66). Ruskin’s main emphasis was on the moral and spiritual benefits of craft rather than upon accommodating the technology of production of the contemplation of beauty. Morris started a firm which designed furniture and stained glass windows by Philip Webb and Dante Gabriel Rossetti and had an embroidery workshop run by his wife. Such furnishings established a link with craft traditions only minimally affected either by contemporary commercial considerations or by the use of machine tools and techniques (Raizman 109). This proved to be a successful means of production through affordable labor costs of production methods and vision for a society based upon meaningful satisfying work. Would you be a fan of Ruskin and Morris or would you push for the efforts that the Victorian Era created? The Victorian Era created a huge new class to gain importance but Ruskin and Morris soon learned that status came at a high cost in losing the connection between the designs and the designer. Would you put value in the work of the artist or in the status the piece of furniture gave to you? Would you settle for less (bad quality, one of thousand produced) because it was more (easier to obtain, gave you status because you could have lots “stuff” since it was affordable)?

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.