"Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful."
Those words of William Morris — British poet, socialist and wallpaper and fabric designer — are as inspiring now as they were when he helped the Arts and Crafts Movement span the globe at the turn of the 20th century.
With its focus on clean lines, handcrafting and natural materials, the style was a direct response to the excesses of the Victorian era and the advent of industrialization and its emphasis on quantity over quality. The same ideas feel fresh in the current era of mass production, fueling a renewed surge of interest.
In fact, the revival inspired by a 1972 Princeton University exhibition has already surpassed the original lifespan of the style's popularity in the early 1900s.
Gustav Stickley, keenly aware of the style's development abroad, was the leading advocate of the Arts and Crafts aesthetic in America, embracing a philosophy that called for honest craftsmanship, good design and organic materials — in the home and in life. He evangelized his streamlined American interpretation through "The Craftsman" magazine and Elbert Hubbard's Roycrofters colony in upstate New York.
Stickley had many imitators, including his brothers. Accessories also embraced the Arts and Crafts philosophy. Ceramic companies like Rookwood in Cincinnati and Grueby in Boston created art pottery with earthy tones, matte glazes and organic motifs. Embroidered pillows and curtains (often homemade), wide range of metalwork, and rugs featuring nature-inspired designs — imported by Stickley and others — added to the interior's warmth.
The creative output over a span of only some 20 years was astounding. Frank Lloyd Wright and other Prairie School architects took Arts and Crafts principles to new heights with creative designs of their own.
While original pieces are costly and harder to find, there has also been an explosion of artisans recreating and expanding the Arts and Crafts ethos with quality pieces at more attainable prices. These artisans, like their early 20th century counterparts, display a dedication to honest craftsmanship.
- Bow arm Morris chair and leather ottoman, $702 to $4,226, www.stickley.com
- Gustav Stained Glass lantern, $4,200, www.aurorastudios.com
- Teardrop vase, Rainforest Jewel vase and Forsythia vase, $138 - $238, www.ephraimpottery.com
- Glenmure Voysey and Fintona Voysey rugs, $2,400 each, www.jaxrugs.com
- Tiles in Montana de Oro and signed Limited Edition Pine Landscape, $190 - $500 framed, www.motawi.com
- Wall stencils by Helen Foster, $34 - $46, www.bungalowborders.com
- uOne hundred percent linen embroidered pillow, Batcheler Cats design, $325 for finished pillow; $55 for pillow kit, www.textilestudio.com.