The American Craftsman style was born of the Arts and Crafts movement which began in England. It shared the foundational ideal of producing hand-crafted pieces created by skilled artisans. In accord with our English counterparts, the movement here was also an attempt to resist the industrialization of all crafts. The American movement was a bit more varied, demonstrating regional influences (Mission in California and the desert Southwest, Prairie in the upper Midwest, etc.). In addition, the American style drew design ideas from home-grown traditions like those of the Shakers.
The Shakers lived in fully self-sufficient communities. This meant, among other things, that they created their own furniture. These pieces were extremely well-built, designed to last (forever) so as not to waste resources. In keeping with the idea of avoiding waste, and in an attempt to avoid the sin of pride, adornment was kept to a minimum. This minimalism even extended to the very limited number of colors allowed in painted furniture (essentially primary colors). By and large, if a piece was painted instead of stained, it would be painted a uniform color.
Aspects of the Shaker style that were drawn into the American Craftsman aesthetic include its clean lines, sturdiness, durability, and quality craftsmanship. We lean heavily on these design elements in our creations at Lambkin Studios. We also look to the influences of Gustav Stickley and the Japonism movement. Stickley’s style is known for clean straight lines as well as for showcasing joinery, a means of demonstrating the craftsmanship of the piece. Stickley also gets the credit for the moniker Craftsman style. His magazine (catalog) was titled The Craftsman.
Frank Lloyd Wright, a Stickley contemporary, and the most well-known designer of the Arts and Crafts movement in America, has been listed as the most influential architect of all time. His influence can also be seen in our creations. Have you noticed how our tree-line dressers are reminiscent of his flat-roofed houses?
Despite the fact that the Craftsman movement began more than a century ago, the style remains incredibly popular even today. It’s a design language that seems to remind us of an era when quality and craftsmanship were hallmarks, badges of honor. We are grateful to be part of the rebirth of that movement and mindset.