'Contesting the modernity of domestic space: Arts & Crafts and commercial influences in the furnishing and decoration of the British middle-Class home, 1890-1914'

Lara-Betancourt, Patricia (2012) 'Contesting the modernity of domestic space: Arts & Crafts and commercial influences in the furnishing and decoration of the British middle-Class home, 1890-1914'. In: 3rd Global Conference Space and Place; 3-6 Sep 2012, Mansfield College, Oxford, UK. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

Victorian Britain, and London in particular, had some of the largest and most successful department stores in the world producing and selling domestic furniture and furnishings to an ever expanding national and international middle-class clientele. Businesses such as Maple, Whiteley, Waring & Gillow and Selfridges, among many others, made London into a byword for the best shopping city in the UK. However, in spite of their success and popularity, a loose but powerful group of artists and designers, and the design reform movement they promoted, consistently attacked the products and commercial activities of retailers, and the consumers who patronised them. Thus the British middle-class home with its richly furnished interiors became a contested place in terms of taste, class and gender and of the ideals and aspirations behind them, such as modernity and domesticity. At odds with modern industry and commerce, reformers aspired to revive pre-industrial modes of production based on medieval notions of craftsmanship. Their reformist discourse and campaign, linked to the designer A. W. N. Pugin, art critic John Ruskin, artist and designer William Morris and, later on, the Arts and Crafts movement, was backed by institutions such as the Society of Arts, the national museums and galleries and the Schools of Design. It was hence successful in disseminating a new set of design principles permeating all practices regarding the decorative arts. This paper illustrates the contested modernity of domestic space by examining reformers’ criticism directed towards the commercial sphere and towards women’s taste in particular, as reflected in advice literature published between 1890 and 1914.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Event Title: 3rd Global Conference Space and Place
Organising Body: Inter-Disciplinary.Net
Research Area: History of art, architecture and design
Faculty, School or Research Centre: Faculty of Art, Design & Architecture > Modern Interiors Research Centre (MIRC)
Depositing User: Patricia Lara-Betancourt
Date Deposited: 21 Nov 2014 14:07
Last Modified: 03 Mar 2015 10:25
URI: http://eprints.kingston.ac.uk/id/eprint/29659

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