It stood for traditional craftsmanship using simple forms, and often used medieval, romantic, or folk styles of decoration. It advocated economic and social reform and was essentially anti-industrial and it had a strong influence on the arts in Europe until it was displaced by Modernism in the 1930s, and its influence continued among craft makers, designers, and town planners long afterwards. It was inspired by the ideas of architect Augustus Pugin, writer John Ruskin, the movement developed earliest and most fully in the British Isles, and spread across the British Empire and to the rest of Europe and North America. It was largely a reaction against the perceived impoverished state of the arts at the time. The Arts and Crafts style emerged from the attempt to reform design, but it was as much a movement of social reform as design reform and its leading practitioners did not separate the two. The art historian Nikolaus Pevsner has said that exhibits in the Great Exhibition showed ignorance of basic need in creating patterns. Owen Jones, for example, declared that Ornament, fiona MacCarthy says that unlike later zealots like Gandhi, William Morris had no practical objections to the use of machinery per se so long as the machines produced the quality he needed. Morriss followers also had differing views or changed their minds over time. C. R. Ashbee, for example, a figure in the Arts and Crafts Movement. At the time of his Guild of Handicraft, initiated in 1888, he said, We do not reject the machine, but we would desire to see it mastered. Morris insisted that the artist should be a working by hand and advocated a society of free craftspeople. Because craftsmen took pleasure in their work, he wrote, the Middle Ages was a period of greatness in the art of the common people. The treasures in our museums now are only the common used in households of that age. Medieval art was the model for much Arts and Crafts design and medieval life, before capitalism, the founders of the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society did not insist that the designer should also be the maker. Peter Floud, writing in the 1950s, said that The founders of the Society, never executed their own designs, but invariably turned them over to commercial firms. The Arts and Crafts Movement was associated with socialist ideas in the persons of Morris, T. J. Cobden Sanderson, Walter Crane, Ashbee, in the early 1880s Morris was spending more of his time on socialist propaganda than on designing and making. Ashbee established a community of craftsmen, the Guild of Handicraft, in east London and those adherents who were not socialists, for example, Alfred Hoare Powell, advocated a more humane and personal relationship between employer and employee. Lewis Foreman Day, a successful and influential Arts and Crafts designer, was not a socialist either
The Nature of Gothic by John Ruskin, printed by William Morris at the Kelmscott Press in 1892 in his Golden Type inspired by the 15th century printer Nicolas Jenson. This chapter from The Stones of Venice was a sort of manifesto for the Arts and Crafts movement.
Pugin's house, "The Grange", in Ramsgate, 1843. Its simplified Gothic style, adapted to domestic building, helped shape the architecture of the Arts and Crafts Movement.
William Morris, the main influence on the Arts and Crafts Movement