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Arts and Crafts Movement

John Ruskin was an art critic who believed the immorality of 19th century capitalism could be highlighted by one thing above all others: the ugliness of the environment.
 
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at first glance he did seem a deeply improbable person to call a political
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theorist John Ruskin one of the most ambitious and impassioned English social
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reformers of the 19th century seem to care mostly about one thing
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beauty which has a reputation for being eminently a political and removed from
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real life and yet the more ruskin thought about beauty the beauty of
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things humans make the more he realized that the quest to make a beautiful world
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is inseparable from the needs to remake it politically economically and socially
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in a world that's nowadays growing not only ever more polluted and unequal but
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also that we seldom remark upon it uglier Ruskin's emphasis on beauty and
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its understanding of its role in politics make him an unusual yet timely
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and very necessary figure
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John Ruskin was born in london in 1819 the only child in a wealthy and costed
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home every year during his teens he went with his parents on long tours of Europe
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the place that most impressed him and change the course of his life was Venice
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which he first saw when he was 16 and to which you returned almost every year
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during long periods of his adult life in Venice
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he spent his days visiting churches floating in gondolas looking at
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paintings and making highly accurate drawings of his favorite architectural
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details on his return to England Ruskin was struck by the contrast between the
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glories of Venice and the often dingy realities of British urban life
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it's a familiar phenomenon we too are liable to come back from the grand canal
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to Main Street the corner store and fill our spirits inc and yet although we may
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matter a few disparaging remarks on the whole we leave it at that
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we tend to feel that the ugliness that surrounds us is some sort of inviolable
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phenomenon which we would be best to resign ourselves to but that wasn't
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Ruskin's way he couldn't get over the appalling realization that in one place
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human effort that led to such delightful results and yet in most places the same
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or even more thought
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money and labor had produced a landscape that was dismal and soldiers trying
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why was the contemporary world so dispiriting Lee monstrously ugly
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ruskin began his career as an art critic but by middle-aged a more direct an
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urgent goal came into view
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he realized that the ugliness of most things in Britain was the clearest
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indication of the decadence cruel economic ideology and rotten moral
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foundations of his society he devoted the remainder of his career to an urgent
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vocal fight against the underlying principles of modern capitalism
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he was always off to harangue some group of Industrialists in Birmingham or
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sheffield about their crooked value systems and the immense heart-rending
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superiority of Venice to modern England but he was also interested in practical
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action when his father died he was left an enormous fortune in 1871 he founded
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the guild of some George
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he had long admired the medieval killed system where workers were well organized
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within trades that offered them both job security and pride in their work
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so we set up workshops in a network of farms creating sustainable an
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adulterated food stuffs for a time he was a leading maker of apple juice
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he even wants to set up a network of schools offering evening classes for
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workers as an alternative to the numbing mass media
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otherwise push their way some of his ideas succeeded
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Ruskin's devotee started a business making jumpers jams even a museum
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his most devoted disciple William Morris set up a highly influential interior
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decoration company and the guild itself has survived today and still perform
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some of the work that ruskin a champion but of course
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ruskin didn't manage single-handedly to reform capitalism
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it seems a general law that people who can think well are the most adapted
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organizing change
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they are good with the accounts they get impatient with meetings and so the world
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doesn't change as much as it should
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however ruskin remains an inspiration to anyone who seeks not just to reflect on
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the world but also to alter it towards beauty and wisdom in the mid eighteen
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seventies while he was a professor at Oxford
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ruskin got increasingly bothered that his students went to parties and wrote
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essays but never did anything very productive with their hair
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hands which he believed had a detrimental effect on their characters
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so we got together 60 students and organize them to mend and nearby road we
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should become ugly and unusable and to tidy the neighboring green so the
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children could play on it took them a long time and they made very imperfect
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progress there were complaints from the local landlord and a general conviction
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that Ruskin was a touch unhinged
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but the underlying point is crucial out of fear of seeming ridiculous
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we often end up not tackling the challenges around us the road mending is
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a small instance of a larger idea that animated Ruskin's life that it's the
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duty of creative privileged people to direct their efforts towards making the
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world more pleasing and tidy more convenient and beautiful
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not just for themselves but with the greatest good of the greatest number
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most of us have at some point felt the trees that lovely that somewhere else is
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far more beautiful than where we live today that there are too many shoddy
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things in the world that work really isn't enjoyable enough that often we are
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miss employed but we tend to dismiss these thoughts as to personal minor not
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really of significance
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ruskin argues us into a more ambitious and more serious attitude
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it is he says just such thoughts and experiences which need to be given
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proper weight which need to be analyzed and understood
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they provide crucial clues as to what is really wrong with the world and can
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therefore leaders towards moves that may make it genuinely a little better
 
 
 
William Morris wanted to change the way workers approach their jobs and how consumers decide what they want to buy.
 
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the 19th century designer poet and entrepreneur william morris is one of
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the best guides we have to the modern economy despite the fact that he died
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while Queen Victoria was still on the throne never made a telephone call and
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would have found the very idea of TV utterly baffling Morris was the first
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person to understand two issues which have become decisive for our times
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firstly the role of pleasure in work and secondly the nature of consumer demand
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William Morris was born in 1834 into a well of English family
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after graduating he spent some time training as an architect but at this
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stage a conventional career wasn't his main concern
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he saw himself as an artist and a poet he was simply interested in making
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things for his own satisfaction and maybe for the enjoyment of a few friends
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a year after he married his favorite actress and model Morris became obsessed
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with a project of building and furnishing a family home
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bexleyheath in southeast London it was called the Red House and pretty much
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everything in it was designed from scratch
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either by Morris himself or by his close friend and architectural collaborator
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Philip Webb the experience of building and fitting out his house told Morris
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his first big lesson about the economy
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it would have been simpler and may be cheaper to have ordered everything from
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a factory outlet but Morris wasn't trying to find the quickest or simplest
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way to set up home
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he wants to find the way that would give him and everyone involved in the project
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maximum satisfaction
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this process five Morris with an enthusiasm for the medieval idea of
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craft the worker would develop sensitivity and skill and enjoy the
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labor
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it wasn't to be mechanical or humiliating he spotted the craft offers
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important clues to what we actually want from work
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we want to know we've done something good with the day that our efforts have
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counted towards tangible outcomes that we actually see and feel a worthwhile
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labor can be dignified
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it was a timely in sight this was an era of massive industrialization and the
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conditions were often horrendous Morris was determined to show that the
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principles of craft and satisfying work for the worker
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could and should be at the heart of the modern world and that he realized that
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making them into a business
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so in 1861 still in his mid-twenties Morris started a decorative arts
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business
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Morris Marshall Faulkner and co which they like to call simply affirm his
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colleagues included burne-jones the brilliant poet painter and charismatic
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personality
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Dante Gabriel Rossetti and the architect Philip Webb they set up a factory making
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wallpaper chairs curtains and tables
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they were very proud not only the elegant designs but the quality of the
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workmanship that went into all their products but a firm soon encountered a
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very instructive problem
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the factories and machines of the Industrial Revolution had brought about
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mass production
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if you ask a comparatively high price to ensure the dignity of work and quality
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of materials and so make something that will last you really risk losing
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customers
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surely the logic of economics dictates that a lower price will always
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necessarily win or does it for Morris the key factor is whether customers are
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willing to pay what he called the just price if they are then work can be
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honorable
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if they're not then work is necessarily going to be on the whole degrading and
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miserable
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so r is concluded that the linchpin of a good economy is the education of the
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consumer we collectively needs to get clearer about what we really want in our
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lives and why and how much certain things are going to be worth to us until
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we have better collective taste
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we're going to struggle to have a better economy and society it's a huge idea
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an important clue - good consumption Morris insisted is that you should have
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nothing in your houses that you don't know to be useful or believed to be
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beautiful
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it's not an invitation to bleak renunciation Morris wasn't trying to
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make anyone feel guilty or ashamed he wished for people to see their purchases
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as investments and buy items sparingly
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he would've preferred for someone to spend a great deal on an intricate
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handmade dining set that would last for decades and grow to become a family
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heirloom and for each generation to buy its own cheap alternative just to be
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thrown away when fashions changed for Morris himself his business didn't work
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out terribly well there was healthy demand from the well-to-do
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the morris lines of furniture wallpaper fabrics and lamps continue to sell for
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many years and still do but he didn't manage to break into the wider bigger
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markets that he aspired to
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he died in 1896 of tuberculosis still we should remember him because he directs
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our attention to a set of centrally important tests that a good economy
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should pass
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how much do people enjoy working how long a consumer goods expected to last
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other cities beautiful generally not just in a few privileged parts the
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economy can with fatal ease feel as if it's governed by abstract complex laws
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Morris's point is that nevertheless the economy is intimately tethered drop
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preferences and choices
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it may not be necessary to bring factories banks and corporations into
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public ownership and it may not be necessary to win back government impact
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on markets the true task in creating a good economy where it shows us lies much
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closer to home in our own homes
 
 
 
This influential design movement began because people got fed up with machines. The Arts and Crafts movement promoted economic and social reform, sticking up for ordinary workers and craftspeople.
 
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arts and crafts isn't just about glitter glue and garish ball house
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arts and crafts their movement was actually one of the most influential .
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and design history about a hundred and fifty years ago people have become
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totally fed up with machines
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not that kind of machine this code the steam age had brought mechanization to
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industry agriculture and transportation which changed everything
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people had gone nuts for technology manufacturers can make the Lords of
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stuff for laws of people without really thinking too much about the final
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product before the Industrial Revolution a craftsman we spend a lifetime
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perfecting his skill and it should but when mass production came along the art
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of making things
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crafting them kind of faded away the Arts and Crafts movement was a rebellion
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a reaction to the negative impact of Industry and this beard he led the
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charge
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William Morris was a port and artist he believed industrial production was
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making us less creative and removing skill from the manufacturing process
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Maura said we do not reject the machine
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we welcome it but we would desire to see it mastered his influential company
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Morris Marshall partner in court provided everything the 19th century
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homeowner needed from wallpaper to furnishing stained glass to carpeting
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arts and crafts purest like Morris like to see well craftsmanship and the things
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they made a sword hammer marks were left visible on metal one joints exposed and
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furniture
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the movement promoted economic and social reform while championing ordinary
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workers and underappreciated craftspeople
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arts and crafts and global appeal you could see
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arts and crafts never actually ended its morals ethics and political games are
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still evident today we love knowing where our stuff is made and whether it
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was made well I'm out
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even though we know rely upon technology more than at any point in human history
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we also still care about how and why something is made
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you can thank the Arts and Crafts movement for that
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have you mastered your machines

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