Arts and Crafts Pianos
(American Craftsman 1910 – 1925)

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The Arts and Crafts Piano movement, both a social and a design revolution, took root in response to English Industrialization. It was a romantic ideal, ennobling the craftsman to take pride in his personal handiwork. The movement in England was at its height between approximately 1880 and 1910. In the United States the popularity of this aesthetic caught on thereafter, beginning around 1910. The terms American Craftsman , or Craftsman Style are often used to denote the style of architecture, interior design, and decorative arts that prevailed between the dominant eras of Art Nouveau and Art Deco, or roughly the period from 1910 to 1925. The Arts and Crafts movement was strongest in the industrializing countries of northern Europe and in the USA, and it can best be understood as an unfocused reaction against the excess of Victorian design and the impersonal nature of factory-riddled environments.

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Arts and Crafts design is straight-lined, flat-planed, unembellished furniture. Attempting to reinvigorate craft traditions, the movement had an ethical code of integrity and solid earnestness. In lue of the increased mechanization of furniture making, the Arts and Crafts movement upheld hand craftsmanship over assembly-line production. Ironically, in spite of the often cited Arts and Crafts bias against machine use, most of the furniture was constructed with the help of machines. For most, the goal was to keep the craftsman from becoming a factory worker or a cog in modular production. To emphasize the point of hand-crafted excellence, many furniture designers produced furniture with exposed joinery-often the primary embellishment of the piece.

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The terms Mission, Craftsman and Arts and Crafts are often confused. They have separate meanings, although they are mistakenly used interchangeably. “Arts and Crafts” is the umbrella term that generally applies to all crafts produced under the aforementioned influence of anti-industrialist ideas for social reform. Hand-craftsmanship, no-nonsense forms and local materials were hallmarks of this movement. “Mission” denotes rectilinear American furniture, characterized by simple lines and structurally frank furniture designs. The genesis of the term “Mission” came from the influence of the basic, solid furniture of some Spanish missions in California. Although the name came from the missions, much of this furniture was originally inspired by Gustav Stickley. The word “Craftsman” is the trade mark Stickley choose for his Arts and Crafts furniture. Although much American-manufactured furniture was made in imitation of Stickley’s Craftsman line, none but Stickley’s is properly called Craftsman furniture. There were other significant branches, among which include exceptional designers such as Greene and Greene and Roycroft.

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