The Craftsman Movement & Frank Lloyd Wright

In rebuttle to the ostentacious Victorian style, the Craftsman movement emerged in Amercia, practically making a 180 degree turn from the gaudy heaviness of the Victorian era. Several individuals contributed to the development and spread of this style but Gustav Stickley is often recognized as the leader (Pile 275), and Frank Lloyd Wright is remembered for his work developed in his style.

Stickley made huge strides in the popularity department of the movement by starting a magazine called “The Craftsman,” featuring current Craftsman homes and furniture (Pile 276). Stickley’s own personal furniture style included very simple design; natural materials like wood and leather, hand crafted joinery, and very little if any ornamentation (Pile 276).

Stylistically the Craftsman movement was the stripping away of everything Victorian. Where before there had been rich embellishment and deep carvings, now there were smooth surfaces, clean geometric lines, more natural materials, and detail only from the constructed form. It came to sometimes be called Mission because of its close resemblance to furniture made previously for the California missions (Pile 276). Stemming off of Stickley’s work, Elbert Hubbard established Roycroft, producing mission furniture and posing a direct competitive threat to Stickley’s sales.

Frank Lloyd Wright, though pursuing a continuation of the Craftsman style, had a more narrowed approach. He strongly considered the relationship between the plan of the home and what was seen throughout or experienced within its walls (Mallgrave 135). He strove for an organic quality to the house, all of its elements naturally coming together to form a unified whole, considering the aesthetic to be an expression of the structure as a solution to a problem, rethinking the concept of style (135). To him, the final product should be an expression too, of the process employed to construct it, and not a cover up act. It should be one in unison with its environment, and not devoid of context (135).

In analyzing the Craftsman movement, do you think this trend could be one that might catch on again today or have we leaned too much toward the Industrial Revolution’s steel skyscrapers, prefabrication, and machine-based construction to come back around?

Relating back to some of the questions discussed during the sections on the Industrial Revolution and the development of fossil fuels, what effect do you think a continuation of the Craftsman’s push toward natural materials like wood, and hand- rather than machine-crafted elements, would have done for our current situations (such as pollution, dwindling amounts of natural resources and our undeniable dependence on them, global warming, etc.)?