Several major interiors trends in 2020 have shared elements of the 19th century Arts & Crafts Movement. These have included a renewed focus on biophilic design, interest in craftsman and artisan-made furnishings and finishing's and a turn towards intentional, utilitarian decorating. For those unfamiliar with the period, the Arts & Crafts Movement was popular in both the UK, in the mid to late 19th century, and the US, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Monica Obnisky explains the ethos of the British and American Arts & Crafts Movements in her article “The Arts and Crafts Movement in America“ for the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Obnisky explains that the movement emerged as a result of growing anxieties surrounding increasing industrialization in Britain, which, at the time, was the “most industrialised country in the world.” Obnisky writes that in, in America,“the Arts and Crafts movement did not promote a particular style, but it did advocate reform as part of its philosophy.”
Not only did the Arts & Crafts Movement seek to promote “artistic handicraft,” but its supporters also took sides in the labour movement. Believers in the movement “instigated a critique of industrial labour...as modern machines replaced workers.” Those engaged in the Arts and Crafts Movement actively fought for “an end to the division of labour and advanced the designer as craftsman.” From a design perspective, the Arts and Crafts Movement offered up its version of “the ideal home,” writes Obnisky. This “ideal home” was one hallmarked by “an open-planned interior shaped by a colour palette that reflected the natural environment.” Today, this focus on nature, simplicity and craftsmanship has gained ground once more. Writers, designers, decorators, architects and consumers alike have all expressed an ever-intensifying interest in biophilic interiors filled with special pieces. Follow below to learn more about the 2021 Arts and Crafts Interior Trend - and how to capture it in your own home.
1. Pick Patterns From Nature
The Arts and Crafts Movement focused primarily on incorporating natural design elements and materials into home interiors. From an architectural perspective, this could include anything from the wood of a house’s frame to the stone of the fireplace. From a decorating perspective, this could include carvings in organic motifs -- such as the jewellery box pictured above on the right -- or wallpaper depicting foliage, flowers and other images from nature. Elizabeth Metcalfe writes in her article “How to do a contemporary Arts & Crafts interior” for House & Garden about the use of nature in Arts and Crafts interiors. Metcalfe writes that the “naturalistic wallpapers and fabrics, rustic furniture and pared-back interiors” of recent years have all recalled the style of the Arts and Crafts Movement - modernised for today.
Furthermore, each element has its roots in the natural world. The imagery popularized throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries in the UK and US are still so beloved today that some of the period’s designs have been replicated for sale in the 21st century. According to Metcalfe, several of the “living patterns” by designer William Morris were re-released in 2016 by Morris & Co. The colour palette, natural motifs and “pared-back designs” of Morris’ designs are everywhere in 2020 - and expected to become even more abundant in 2021. Honor Morris and other Arts and Crafts Movement designers and artisans by pasting foliage and flowered wallpaper to the walls of your home and adding pieces like those pictured above to any surface!
2. Choose Wooden Walls, Furniture and Floors
As mentioned above, natural motifs and materials reigned supreme in the Arts and Crafts Movement of the 19th and 20th centuries. Designers and consumers aligned with the movement believed natural materials and craftsmen -- instead of industrial pieces were not only better for society, but also for personal health. Wood, commonly used in interior design and residential architecture, became the most preferred material as it required very little treatment. A tree could be chopped down, hewn and immediately converted into building materials, keeping its connection to nature wholly intact.
According to the Impressive Interior Design article “Arts and Crafts Interior Design And Great Decorating Ideas,” wood is “ the cornerstone of Arts and Crafts decorating and design.” Arts and Craftsman furniture and other design elements made from wood tend to be simple and sturdy, emphasizing function while never abandoning form. According to Impressive Interior Design, the wooden pieces - floors, cabinets and furniture - of Arts and Craftsman interiors “bear less adornment, but...stand out for [their] use of superior material, attention to detail and masterful craftsmanship.” To capture this element of the Arts and Crafts Movement in your own home, stay away from painted wood pieces. Oak, maple and pine can be stained, however, as staining “showcases rather than hiding wood’s attractive and unique grain.”
3. Select Simple Silhouttes
Arts and Crafts design is special because it places the materials and craftsmanship of each piece - whether furnishings, décor pieces or architectural elements- front and centre. Showcasing natural materials and effective design typically means eschewing complex decoration. As the Impressive Interior Design article “Arts and Crafts Interior Design And Great Decorating Ideas” explains, “Arts and Crafts home décor makes craftsmanship the star of its style arts, keeping materials simple and organic.” Much of the Arts and Crafts Movement focus on simplification arose as a rejection of early 19th century design, which was much more opulent and complex.
Both UK and American audiences at the time had turned away from overly decorative pieces and towards “simpler and more functional living spaces.” Furniture and lighting elements should almost always be kept sleek and unobtrusive in Arts and Crafts-inspired homes. This is especially true in rooms outfitted with loud floral wallpaper- as it should not have to fight for attention with the furniture. Arts and Crafts inspired homes should always be in balance, with no one feature overpowering the other.