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Eastlake Designs

Jun 16, 2019   //   by wvanbusk   //   Redwood Victorian  //  Comments Off on Eastlake Designs

eastlake sideboardAround the turn of the 20th century there was a lot of anticipation of the dawning age and design reformers worked to simplify and get us back in touch with hand crafted and artistic things that are simple, effective and removed from industrial production. Social reformers were critical of mass production and over ornamentation as a form of excess and looked to the rural lifestyle. The Arts and Crafts Society held an exhibition in 1888 in England that became the namesake of the movement.

The change in aesthetics was not just in art but in lifestyle; away from conservative values and conformity and toward self-expression and art for art’s sake. The exploration of beauty in nature embraced oriental and eastern designs broke the classical rules of the Victorians. The effects were seen in painting, music, architecture, and general design of furnishings and clothing.

I have found that all ugly things are made by those who strive to make something beautiful, and that all beautiful things are made by those who strive to make something useful.

Oscar Wilde, 1883

Eastlake bookcaseNot everyone was going along with the shocking change in social norms and kept to their uptight corsets and high and tight collars through the upheaval.  Some attacked the the ideas of those who benefited from the sale of their designs as hypocrisy and too expensive for the average person.

Velvet-clad Aesthetes with their ‘stained-glass attitudes’, overly precious speech, and enthusiasm for the curious appeal of pale lilies, sunflowers, peacock feathers, fragile blue-and-white china and Japanese fans.
Gilbert and Sullivans popular opera Patience (1881)
Charles Eastlake helped to popularize many of these ideas. In 1868 he published Hints on Household Taste in Furniture, Upholstery and other Details, which was very influential in Britain, and later in the United States, where the book was published in 1872 https://archive.org/details/hintsonhousehold00eastiala/page/30:
eastlake quote