Philosophy of Craftsman Furniture
It is like hoisting a danger signal to speak out loud to Mr. Stickley of ornament, yet all people do not know this. “It is very grand,” said one visitor, “but have you no ornament, carving or draperies in your- house, Mr. Stickley?”
“No draperies, thank you, and as for ornament,-have we not our friends?”
A Visit to Mr. Stickley’s House, Samuel Howe, The Craftsman, December 1902
The legacy of Gustav Stickley provides us with much more than the opportunity to reproduce excellent examples of furniture design. As I have studied his work and writings, I have also found a wonderful example of the profound importance of the way that we perform our daily work, and the importance of working with something genuine, something that will carry the effort we put into it well beyond our passing. It is my hope that the current interest in this furniture will spark a renewed interest in the philosophy and moral values that led to its original creation. In much the same way that Craftsman furniture can fill a need in our homes, the Craftsman philosophy can also fill a need in our lives.
From into to “More Shop Drawings for Craftsman Furniture”
In the arrangement of a home, Nature, culture and common sense should supply the guiding principles, and the passing desire of the hour should be disregarded, as it will always lead astray. The several parts to be assumed by the three monitors may be assigned as follows: Nature will offer unfailing suggestions as to the color most wholesome and agreeable to the eye; culture will discard vulgarity and display; common sense will decide between the useful and the useless: always rejecting that which, too fine for daily use, will remain an alien element in the home; rigidly examining all ornament as if it were a suitor for entrance to the family circle; questioning every object eligible to admission, lest after acquiring it, the owner should raise his standard of taste and the thing acquired become hateful to him.
I think the current appeal of these designs is rooted in our need for the ideals that Gustav Stickley championed—for things that represent lasting value, honesty in character, and a healthy relationship between a home and its occupants.
Perhaps if we surrounded ourselves with excellent designs, expertly crafted, we would come to recognize the good qualities in ourselves, and insist on them as a necessary part of all aspects of our lives.
The more I study the work of Gustav Stickley, the more convinced I become that the reason for the revival of interest in his work is that we have a genuine need for the intangible things his designs reflect, that we have the same needs that these designs were originally intended to serve. Craftsman designs were the reflection of an ideal, and the ideal is what is most important. My experience has been that the study and reproduction of these designs has caused the ideas behind the designs to become an important part of how I think and view the world around me. My hope is that those who enjoy my work will also find these values rubbing off in their own lives.
From Introduction to “Great Book of Shop Drawings for Craftsman Furniture”