ARTS AND CRAFTS / MISSION / PRAIRIE – The Industrial Revolution in England changed the way things were made. Hand-built products were replaced with typically poor quality, mass-produced goods. Intent on returning to the joy, honesty and beauty found in the creation of handmade items for the home, William Morris, in 1861, hired a group of artists and designers and created a firm to produce textiles, wallpaper and furnishings for the home. In the late 19th century, the heavy forms used by Morris evolved into lighter, simpler shapes. This change occurred as Japanese art and design became more readily accessible. Their sparse approach was in direct conflict with the dense, heavily furnished Victorian interiors. This direction had a major influence on the design direction in America. Gustav Stickley created his famous line of “Craftsman” furniture and Frank Lloyd Wright developed his Prairie style of architecture on the foundations of this movement. Look for rectilinear shapes, thick and solid material sections and flat, stylized design elements. If wood is used, it will typically be oak.
CONTEMPORARY / MODERN – From an academic standpoint, any new style created after 1930 is considered “contemporary.” The heavy reliance of polished metals found in the Bauhaus designs was getting old. In the 1930’s, wood was resurrected as a key element and the popularity of plastic opened up a whole new palette of options. While both contemporary and modern represent designs that have cut new paths, Kichler likes to categorize Modern pieces as those with a link to aesthetic history from 1930 to the 1960s. Contemporary covers the direction from that point to today. Look for the complete absence of ornamentation, clean, uncluttered lines, single tone finishes without texture and an overall light feel in the construction.
LODGE / COUNTRY – As America matured and residents began to earn more money, time away from the daily routine to relax and regroup lured people to the country. In national parks and wooded areas, lodges were built. Typically using natural materials, often found on-site and constructed using pioneer building techniques, these structures featured exposed, rough-hewn wood beam truss work and stone fireplaces. The high-style rustic interiors complemented the outdoor activities of hunting, fishing, nature walks and lake swimming. Look for rough-hewn wood, natural metals with forge-like features and heavily textured surfaces. Elements of wild game may also be found.
Art Glass – The edges of a piece of glass are wrapped in copper. This task is repeated for each and every fragment of glass in the design, no matter how small. Inside a bowl-shaped mold, the copper-wrapped pieces are set, according to a pattern, side-by-side and then soldered together, one joint at a time. This painstaking process, (some believe to be over 2,000 years old) has changed little since its popularization by Louis Comfort Tiffany and John LaFarge in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Often based in organic designs employing a full palette of colors, recent patterns have explored contemporary themes and monochromatic glass selections. Look for colorful pieces of glass, set in geometric or organic patterns and wrapped in onyx-colored beading. The accompanying lamp base or lamp (bulb) holding devices are usually rich, deep bronze finishes. Many of the contemporary pieces are finished in Brushed Nickel.
TRADITIONAL – After the excesses of the Baroque and Rococo era and prior to the Industrial Revolution, artists were ready to revisit the classic antiquity of Greek and Roman buildings. From 1750 to the early 19th century, Neoclassicism was the predominant style of the day. The look is highly decorative in a refined manner. Gone were the superfluous accents and excessive design elements. The scale was smaller, and the feel was restrained. Look for elegance, gentle curves and straight lines – all wrapped in restrained ornamentation with simple finishing.
TRANSITIONAL – Transitional is to Traditional as Casual is to Contemporary. Like Casual/Lifestyle, Transitional is a rather new term used to define a style that takes Traditional looks and softens them. Here again, the interior environment is meant to convey comfort. Transitional aesthetics run closer to classic Traditional features, but forego the fussiness found in that Classic styling. The intent is to create a warmer, more inviting room setting. Look for bronze or earth-tone finishes, warm glass accents or diffusers, and traditional lines without heavy ornamentation.