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Though the functional beauty of the Arts and Crafts movement has long been a part of American culture, it is now revitalized by simplicity seekers trying to counteract the fast pace of contemporary living. The elegant simplicity of Craftsman ideals is time defying, as the rooms and furnishings of The Beautiful Necessity: Decorting With Arts and Crafts will reveal. From the traditionalGreene and Greene, Gustav Stickley, Frank Lloyd Wright, and othersto the contemporaryBerkely Mills, Warren Hiles, East/West Furniture Design, and morethe Arts and Crafts movement is represented. All 140 exquisite photographs demonstrate how the Craftsman style has brought stunning warmth yet utilitarian ease to homes past and present.
|Publisher:||Smith, Gibbs Publisher|
|Product dimensions:||8.88(w) x 11.34(h) x 0.88(d)|
About the Author
Bruce Smith lover of history and historical writing, write on the Arts and Crafts movement, bungalows, craft, and food. Smith was the editor of American Bungalow News and associate editor of American Bungalow magazine. Smith co-owns The Arts and Crafts Press in Berkely, California, publishers of The Tabby: A Chronicle of the Arts and Crafts Movement.
Yoshiko Yamamoto, lover of history and historical writing, write on the Arts and Crafts movement, bungalows, craft, and food. Yamamoto is both a student of life and of history. Yamamoto co-owns The Arts and Crafts Press in Berkely, California, publishers of The Tabby: A Chronicle of the Arts and Crafts Movement.
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THE BEAUTIFUL NECESSITYDECORATING with ARTS and CRAFTS
By BRUCE SMITH YOSHIKO YAMAMOTO
GIBBS SMITH PUBLISHERCopyright © 1996 Bruce Smith and Yoshiko Yamamoto
All right reserved.
WE HAVE PLANNED HOUSES from the first on that are based on the big fundamental principles of honesty, simplicity, and usefulness-the kind of houses that children will rejoice all their lives to remember as 'home,' and that give a sense of peace and comfort to the tired men who go back to them when the day's work is done. Because we believe that the healthiest and happiest life is that which maintains the closest relationship with out-of-doors, we have planned our houses with outdoor living rooms, dining rooms, and sleeping rooms and many windows to let in plenty of air and sunlight. -Gustav Stickley, Craftsman Homes
Home space. It is the space where people dance, sit, read, sleep, share meals with family and friends, laugh, feel secure, face the world. The idea of space changed drastically with houses built under the influence of the Arts and Crafts movement. Interiors opened up, floor plans became more asymmetrical, the uses of space became more flexible, small spaces assumed new meanings, life within the house flowed more freely, and there was a strong bonding made between space within the home and with the natural world outside.
The tendency in the traditional American family home had been to segregate activities-the kitchen and pantry set off from the main body of the house, sometimes in separate quarters, the parlor kept pristine for visitors, the sitting room set aside for the family to gather in the evening. Then as the nineteenth century drew to a close and the next century began, life became more informal; the idea of the designed home shifted downward from being an upper-class right to becoming a right of the upper-middle and aspiring working class. Since schooling was now done outside the home, the home grew smaller; meals became more relaxed and had fewer courses; entrance halls became luxuries rather than social necessities; working-class girls worked less often as servants and more often in factories. Between 1900 and 1920 the number of domestic servants in America declined by half, from eighty to thirty-nine per thousand.
With the change from post-and-beam construction to the innovation of the balloon frame as well as the technological advancement of factory production of nails and standardized mill cutting of lumber, not only did it become cheaper and faster to build homes, it opened up the possibilities for interior space, both figuratively and literally. Before the advent of the balloon frame, interior space was limited to the distance a beam could be safely stretched between two posts. After balloon-frame construction began in about 1840, the house could be raised in wall sections, each supporting the other in a lightweight frame that left the interior space opened up to a new sense of freedom.
It is enough to say that in these days a home can scarcely be considered worthy of the name if it does not contain at least one hearth. Some inexplicable quality of wood fires exerts almost a hypnotic influence upon those who eagerly gather about them. The smoldering glow of the logs induces a calm and introspective mood that banishes all the trivialities and distractions of the day's work and gives one an opportunity to replenish his store of energy for the coming day. -Henry Saylor
The fireplace and the hearth were, for those of the Arts and Crafts movement, the heart, the center, the soul of the house. Around it, the house was built; around it, the life of the family evolved. Henry Saylor, in writing about the fireplace, told of the man who defined the home as "a fireplace, boxed in." No more was it needed for heat-since the cast-iron radiator had been put into mass production in the last decade of the century, central heating had filled the need of keeping the middle-class family warm during the winter. Rather than eliminating the need for the fireplace, central heating allowed architects and builders to place the fireplace in sometimes less-than-functional locations and to use the fireplace for a role other than that of heating. Frank Lloyd Wright, for example, did not hesitate to place a fireplace in a large open space dividing two rooms, where it could not effectively heat either side; but that was not the point of the fireplace for Wright. Its purpose was to fulfill a more metaphorical role. As the house itself came to be spoken of in almost anthropomorphic terms, the fireplace, the hearth, took on the role of the beating heart. "A home without at least one fireplace," House and Garden reported in 1909, "can hardly be considered livable." Saylor, again about the fireplace, wrote, "A bungalow without a fireplace would be almost as much of an anomaly as a garden without flowers-and as cheerless."
The inglenook forms a place for retreat, for privacy and intimacy-never opening directly to the outside, never fully closed off from the inside of the house. It serves, in a sense, as the innermost depth of the public part of the house. In a further sense, it provides a way for the heart of the home, the fireplace, to be protected, to form a space in which one can turn inward, to contemplate the firelight, to share times with someone special.
Oddly, the advent of popularity of this innermost space of the house happened as the inside of the house was opening up, was moving away from the Victorian sense of closed, tightly defined spaces and moving towards the more modern sense of openness and flexibility of space.
The use of inglenooks in the home was an innovation revived by the English architects Richard Norman Shaw and Eden Nesfield in the mid-1860s. They adapted to the upper-middle-class home an element of traditional farmhouse architecture that dates back to the late fifteenth century: the hearth (the ingle), situated in its own alcove (the nook.) in America, the inglenook was established in the 1880s by the work of H. H. Richardson as part of the new American architectural vocabulary.
Hermann Muthesius in his 1896 study of the English home, Das Englische Haus, wrote that the inglenook was "... the old form of domestic hearth as it existed in English farmhouses in the room in which the cooking was done and the family lived; and in as much as one derives most benefit from the warmth of the fire by sitting close to it, it is the exact equivalent of the old German tiled stove surrounded by stone seats." He noted that it was "... important that the seats should have direct light to enable people to sit and read there. An outside wall is therefore the only possible place for an inglenook, which is seen as a jutting extension, a very familiar motif in the external appearance of the English house. Inside, the alcove is always just high enough for a person to stand upright in it."
During the time of the Arts and Crafts movement, the division in the interior spaces of the home became, at times, more visual than actual-a screen placed within a room could isolate a private corner; a built-in half-bookcase could divide a large room into two; two benches could form an alcove. The more private parts of the home-the bedrooms, the bathrooms,-retained their traditional distinct divisions, but in the more public parts of the home-the library, the living room, the den, the dining room-unity was achieved both by creating the openness of flow within the space as well by developing an accord in the interior design elements.
The opening up of the interior and the change in the uses of the space reflected both the desired and actual changes that were taking place in society. From the time of the Queen Anne movement in architecture, the house had exploded outward with porches, sleeping porches, pergolas, and trellises. On the inside, the formal parlor was transformed into the more used, informal living room. Gradually, as space became more open, the dining room opened into the living room and library, and the house opened up into the outdoors.
THE FIRST CRAFTSMAN HOUSE: MR. STICKLEY'S SYRACUSE HOME
The February 1903 issue of The Craftsman magazine included an article about the newly remodeled Syracuse home of its publisher and editor, Gustav Stickley. On Christmas Eve of the year before, his house had been gutted by a fire, prompting him to completely redesign his home's interior and furnishings.
It was a pivotal time in the career of this young entrepreneur. Stickley had been producing his Mission-style Craftsman furniture only for four years, and he was just a few months short of the time that he would be publishing and promoting his Craftsman house designs under the influence of the great designer and architect Harvey Ellis.
Stickley's home, built in 1900, was an unremarkable neocolonial on the exterior. Remodeled after the fire, it has a quite remarkable openness of interior for the time, an openness that retained an amazing degree of privacy for Mr. Stickley and his family. In the plans of the first floor, a person sitting next to the fireplace in the living room can look through the living room, through the open front hall, through the dining room, all the way to the library at the back of the house, a stretch of some sixty-six feet. In the reverse, one seated in the library can see the flickering of the fireplace at the front of the house. Yet, coming into the house, a visitor can barely see the dining room or library because of a folding screen that blocks the view, and a person must make two left turns in order to enter the living room.
Stickley's biographer, Mary Ann Smith, has pointed out how much the interior of the home resembles his Craftsman furniture. The Craftsman article quotes a visitor asking Stickley, "Have you no ornament, carving or draperies in your house, Mr. Stickley?"
"No draperies, thank you, and as for ornament-have we not our friends?"
As Smith points out, unity is created in the separate elements of the interior by two key elements. First, the horizontal band running at the tops of the doors and windows connects all the walls on the ground floor. Below this band, the "walls are paneled with vertical boards; above, they are plastered." Then secondly, the squared rectangular beams that run the length of the house, from the living room to the library, emphasize the perspective openness of the interior space. As the floor of broad chestnut boards spreads continuously throughout the downstairs space, the only division between rooms becomes the cross beams that serve as a visual separation.
There was a craze for sleeping porches at the turn of the century. As a writer for The Ladies' Home Journal wrote in 1910, "In these days when fresh air and sunshine are considered so essential to good health, no home is complete without a sleeping-porch." Fueled by a newfound concern for healthy living, there was a belief that porch-life meant that incipient lung trouble could be cured and one could live longer and be healthier. Some enthusiastic writers even advocated their readers to sleep outdoors when the thermometer was at zero.
There were many styles of sleeping porches. One kind, open throughout the year, was especially popular in the warm climate of southern California. Others were enclosed or half enclosed with glass doors and windows. Some were used for dining rooms, living rooms, and nursery rooms. Stylistically, too, there emerged variegated forms. Archetypical was the elegant wooden porch with overhanging roof that was well suited to the moderate climate of California and was typical of those designed by the Greene brothers. On the other end of the spectrum was the unique and inexpensive kind that used only a sheet of denim to cover the roof. It cost only three to ten dollars and looked more like a tent, but in its spirit was the distant cousin of the elegant porches designed by the Greenes.
As porches, sleeping porches, piazzas, and terraces created new outdoor living spaces, furniture suitable for outdoors became necessary accouterments to make them livable-places to rest and entertain. There were three main styles of outdoor furniture often cited in period magazines. One was the simple, painted, geometric wooden furniture. Often painted white, it was clearly influenced by then-popular German/Austrian style, characterized by its straight lines. Another was unpainted hickory furniture made of rustic, crooked branches of hickory. The last and most popular of the three was woven furniture made of willow, rattan, or native grass.
Woven furniture was not, in itself, particularly identified with the Arts and Crafts movement, but between 1890 and 1920, many pieces designed in styles associated with the movement were manufactured. Beyond the tons of rattan furniture imported from China, Americans began producing pieces during the Victorian period that were ornate with spiral patterns and curvilinear legs. Then, from the 1890s onward, appealing to the change in taste, they flooded the market with a simpler, more geometric style of woven furniture. In 1893, Joseph McHugh of the Popular Shop in New York, who was just a few years hence to introduce his line of "Mission furniture," introduced a line of wicker furniture, "McHugh willow." A shrewd businessman, his furniture was designed and constructed in a simple manner that proved to be immensely popular. It was not until 1907 that Gustav Stickley introduced his Craftsman Willow Furniture line, modeled after Austrian and German wicker styles. By 1908, wicker furniture became so popular in America that more than 160 manufacturers were in operation. The kinds of woven furniture ranged so widely that one could find an easy chair with arms, a dining-room set, a lamp shade with stands, a candleholder, a swing, a wooden basket covered with wicker, a tea cart, a tea tray, and an umbrella stand, all on a pleasant sunny porch.
The colors that were popular for the porch furniture were either those of Craftsman hues, such as forest green, nut brown, Delft blue, ebony, sealing-wax red, Spanish yellow, indigo blue, or emerald green on the stained wicker, or the pastel colors for those who painted their wooden furniture in the 1910s. These pieces became popular not only because they went aesthetically well with the then-popular Mission-style furniture, but also because they added the feeling of a mountain resort in suburban homes during the time when people were seeking relief from the turmoils of life in a city.
Excerpted from THE BEAUTIFUL NECESSITY by BRUCE SMITH YOSHIKO YAMAMOTO Copyright © 1996 by Bruce Smith and Yoshiko Yamamoto. Excerpted by permission.
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Table of Contents
Chapter One: Space
Chapter Two: The East Coast
Chapter Three: Surface
Chapter Four: Light
Chapter Five: The Midwest
Chapter Six: Function
Chapter Seven: The Machine and the Amateur
Chapter Eight: Community
Chapter Nine: The West
Chapter Ten: Allusions