The Arts and Crafts Movement

The Industrial Revolution

The Industrial Revolution brought about many of the problems the Arts and Crafts movement tried to rectify, such as a drop in quality of crafted goods, lack of professional pride in work, and poor working conditions for laborers.

The Great Exhibition of 1851

Many Arts and Crafts practitioners were greatly disappointed with the level of quality displayed in the Great Exhibition of 1851. Overall they felt many of the displayed pieces lacked quality, and valued form and ornamentation over function.

Arts and Crafts Society

The official begining of the movement is the formation of the Arts and Crafts Society in 1887. Walter Crane served as the first president.

Craftsman and Artist

During this time frame, there was a distinction between a “craftsman” and a “fine artist”. The Arts and Crafts movement sought to elevate the role of the craftsman, wanting them to be as recognized and valued as the painters and sculpters of the time.

Creator and Designer

Many Arts and Crafts designers felt that the designer of an object should have a hand in its creation. Many designers also worked as craftsmen in their own workshops.


Most of the designers in the movement were Socialists. They sought to create a world where artists and craftsmen were equal, working in workshops that treated them fairly while producing high-quaility, hand-crafted products that were affordable to the public.

The Technology Debate

Some Arts and Crafts designers abhorred the technological advancements of the machine, claiming it reduced the quality of work and took the element of human handicraft out of the piece. Others used machines, seeing them as tools - inevitable in order to keep up in the evolving world.

Medieval Influence

The Middle Ages were idealized by some Arts and Crafts designers. They saw a time where designers and artists had pride in their craft, and where they worked together in a tight-nit community. The designers wanted to emmulate that time with their work process.