Craftsman style furniture, initially known as Mission furniture, are presumed to be inspired by the Spanish missions of California. They were crafted in New York City in the 1890s. The British Arts and Crafts Movement was a major influence.
This Victorian style of furniture was rejected by William Morris, the British poet, artist, and architect. He voted for simplicity, good craftsmanship, and design. This gave birth to the Arts and Crafts Movement. This movement remained popular among the upper class as the craftsmanship was priced higher than most people could afford.
The designs focused on intricate, colorful, and realistic patterns. On the other hand, this movement became a trend not only in the upper classes, but also in the middle class of America. The craftsmen focused on highlighting the grain of the wood. The walls were given rich wood tones with wallpapers bordering the walls.
They used machines for cutting the wood, which made the furniture affordable. This made craftsman style furniture the most sought-after home furnishing style.
The expert craftsmanship is pinpointed by the use of a darker shade at the joints. Copper or iron is the choice of fittings. Plain cloth, canvas or leather are popular coverings for the furniture.
Craftsman Style Furniture History
This style of furniture was sculpted into the true American form by Gustav Stickley. His art and style is known throughout the world as 'Craftsman'. He achieved success in the early 1900s. He is known as the leader of Arts & Crafts Movement of America.
The legend of Craftsman style began with the establishment of Stickley Brothers. This establishment was started by Charles, Albert and Gustav in Binghamton, New York in the 1880s. Albert broke off from the Stickley Brothers in 1891 and went on to establish Stickley Brothers Furniture with John George in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Gustav visited England in 1897 and was inspired by John Ruskin and William Morris. In 1898, he opened United Crafts in Eastwood, New York, which had furniture designs on the lines of honesty and simplicity.
Gustav published his book, 'The Craftsman' in 1901. With the help of this book, he promoted his architectural ideas. He built the houses, which were in harmony to its environment. The house was built with materials on the site or native materials of the region. Voids created a visual interest in the form of recessed porches and entrance ways.
Benches, bookcases, and sideboards were promoted to create a practical house, which was useful and appealing. He made an open floor plan, which was helpful in creating a space for the family interactions. He removed the barriers wherever possible.
Gustav's brothers copied his designs and also made furniture designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Gustav had to compete with his brothers, and was not as successful as his brothers in running his business. He soon filed for bankruptcy. This led to less number of articles based on Gustav's designs and his interior drawings were pushed on the back burner.
In 1974, Alfred and Aminy Audi purchased the L. & J.G. Stickley established by Leopold Stickley and John George. The company has grown over the years and it employs 650 artisans and craftsmen. They have striven to maintain the company's tradition of pride, integrity and deep respect for the Arts & Crafts heritage that made Gustav Stickley famous.