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Workers Protest Against the Industrial Revolution
The Industrial Revolution brought with it the growth of a middle class who now had new demands that stood as symbols of a newly attained success, something which hitherto had been enjoyed solely by the upper class.
Décor and art became mass produced, and as the emerging 'status seekers' grew; the machines and industries were capable of meeting their rising demands.
Copying was unbridled, and designs of objects of the past art periods such as furniture pieces, textiles, objects of décor, ceramics, glassware, etc. were continuously replicated, resulting mostly in substandard machine manufactured imitations which flooded the creative art market.
At the time, around the 1830's, the demand for fine hand-crafted products was on the decline, and an object was only considered well made if the machine made object closely resembled its hand-crafted version. This standard measure of evaluating a good or bad product continued up until the 1950s.
Social and Aesthetic Objections
The beginnings of industrialization were fraught with problems and almost weighed down by protests which were frequently carried out against the social effects of industrialization, and the 'damages' made to design aesthetics of machine made objects.
The machine and the Industrial Revolution as a whole were generally unaccepted.
One school of thought likened industrialization to something evil. They claimed, "hand-crafted work is good and machine work is bad". To them, the Industrial Revolution brought woe to individuals, families, and households; there was the hard labour of long working hours, cruel child labour and appalling living conditions.
Working conditions were no better as the factories were dank, dark and unfit for long hours of work.
Church sermons were replete with messages about the "soullessness of machines", and they craved a return to the righteousness of the early art period of Gothic designs. Also, moralists felt the only way to stifle industry was to return to handwork and crafting. This they felt was the only way to "correct the evils of the machine".
- Early American Furniture (17th - 18th Century)
Early American furniture was limited to the bare essentials required for everyday life so comfort was not a consideration. Furniture items were basic tables, chairs, 4-poster beds and babies' cradles.
There were also objections to the aesthetics and designs of machine made products. They were inferior, flimsy and barely durable.
There were no fine intricate details associated with finely crafted creative artworks, and values attached to the arts became virtually non-existent.
Objections Became Catalyst for New Ideas
Subsequently, these protests became a stimulus to change, and objections eventually proved to be the necessary channel that led to the creation of a new design philosophy and thinking, resulting in the creation of designs that were expressive of the machine and the finished product it has created.
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