Was I the only one who had never heard of the Arts & Craft Movement from the 1800s? The story is quite fascinating, and yes, this is the opinion of a History enthusiast. But what do you think?
Arts and Crafts was an international design movement that flourished between 1860 and 1910, continuing its influence until the 1930s. It was largely a reaction against the impoverished state of the decorative arts at the time and the conditions in which they were produced, meaning machine-production (Wikipedia).
Most interesting, was that their notions of good design were linked to their notions of a good society. This was a vision of a society in which the worker was not brutalized by the working conditions found in factories, but rather could take pride in his/her craftsmanship and skill. Thus the goal was to create design that was "for the people and by the people, and a source of pleasure to the maker and the user". However, the result was exquisitely made and decorated pieces that could only be afforded by the very wealthy. Thus the idea of art for the people was lost, and only relatively few craftsmen could be employed making these fine pieces. (Professor Charlotte Jirousek from Cornell University).
So, I like to think that we are now part of a reinvented arts & craft movement, being more successful at linking it to the notion of a good society, in which craftsmanship is accessible to all. We have adopted arts & craft as a way of living, creating a sense of community and ownership, using it to inspire ourselves and others. We make it for the beauty, yes, but most importantly, for the enjoyment of the process! By being open to anyone and everyone, this century's arts & craft movement is greater and more rewarding than its ancestor. And why not say that it also has the power to promote changes in our society? I can attest is promotes changes in my life.