Furniture in the Arts & Crafts manner is not to be classified the way classical and Modern pieces can be. Designers allied with the movement—whether they worked in London or Vienna, Glasgow or Syracuse, Chicago or Pasadena—shared design principles and a philosophical approach. But they created furniture that was extremely diverse.
Best known for pieces that emphasize simplicity, solidity, and straight lines (e.g., Stickley’s oak furniture), the Arts & Crafts movement also produced works of refined proportions, sinuous lines, and complex ornamentation. William Morris advised that everyday furniture be of the simplest possible detailing, while what he called “state furniture” might be embellished. Linear motifs and flat planes dominated the vocabulary of many designers right from the beginning. Yet other designers looked to Gothic carving.
Even more diversity is apparent today. Not only are various original designs being reproduced or closely interpreted, but also furniture makers are creating their own designs and fusions. As was true a hundred years ago, Arts & Crafts furniture may be handmade one piece at a time, or produced in a factory. Today’s artisans and manufacturers are creating work with influences ranging from European and Asian design to that of the 20th-century studio furniture movement.