Although most people will see buy them for their unique designs, the Arts and Crafts rugs or the Art Nouveau rugs actually play a significant role in Western Civilization. The whole movement was brief, starting from 1870 and lasting until 1925 and it was triggered by this dilemma: is progress more important than the soul of civilization?
Human progress vs human soul
Western civilization at this time was in the thick of the industrial revolution. There wasn’t an inch of space that didn’t feature change. But the Arts and Crafts rugs are just a representation of the thinking of that time. The design also spans jewelry, textiles, furniture and fixtures.
Owing to the massive changes taking place at that period, the Arts and Craft rugs are still practical but the designs can be uniquely British. Most of the rugs and carpets, in fact, drew on the paintings and wallpapers in the Medieval Ages, which ironically placed more stock on beauty and lavishness, for inspiration. Some of these rugs also adopt the intricate patterns featured in the Middle East and the Orient for much distinct patterns.
Replicated but never equaled
The designs of the Arts and Crafts rugs can be traced back to Ireland and England but they are still very popular even today. The designs were a symbol of protest by their originators against the mass production characterized by industrial revolution. To them, this mass production compromise aesthetics. Another bone of contention was the garishness associated with the Victorian era. So the Arts and Crafts movement took design elements from nature and moved to simplify them. The colors were also distinct from the Oriental rugs because they assumed the delicate mixture of earthy to bright typically found in a flower garden in full bloom.
Today, the Arts and Crafts rugs are still being replicated by European manufacturers who outsource production in India, Nepal or China. But experts can definitely tell the difference in designs and texture. While imitation is the greatest form of flattery, it’s difficult to duplicate the techniques used by originators like Charles Voysey, Gavin Morton and William Morris who, by the way, is still widely considered as the father of the Arts and Crafts movement.
Arts and Crafts rugs for your home
In terms of texture, these types of rugs are rougher to the feel, with just between 25-45 knots for each square inch in hand-tufted cloths. Just to compare, soft rugs have at least 200 knots per square inch. The thin piles were consistent with the mindset at that time and that was to protest the lavishness of the Victorian era. Today, Arts and Crafts rugs remain a niche market but they are also popular among collectors and those living upscale neighborhoods. Original pieces fetch handsome prices from auction houses.