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Design & History: The Past is Always Present

May 1 @ 1:00 pm - 2:30 pm


Design & History: The Past is Always Present
Week 6: Charles Eastlake and Design Reform in the Late 19th Century

It is difficult to underestimate the impact of Charles Eastlake’s Hints on Household Taste in Furniture, Upholstery and Other Details published in England in 1868, then in the United Sates in 1872. With a focus on the middle class as opposed to the monied elite, Eastlake’s influence was immediately felt through attractive furniture that he claimed could be mass-produced “as cheap as that [furniture] which is ugly.” In the United States, where his book underwent six printings, his ideas impacted furniture design, architecture, and came to epitomize what we think of as “Victorian” today. And yet, a close reading of Eastlake reveals not the polar opposite of the Arts and Crafts movements as we sometimes think, but surprising through lines and connections.

Writing in 1841, Ralph Waldo Emerson recorded one of the immutable laws of the creative process: “the new in art is always formed out of the old.” So while the Arts and Crafts movement appeared to be a new direction in design, it was indebted to the precedents of our collective past, the shared history of design that was understood amongst its manufacturers, designers, and fiercest advocates. This series seeks to recapture those precedents, not to dilute the importance of the movement, but to better understand it, to wrap it properly in the context of the histories from which it emerged so that its contributions – and the meanings which these objects held to contemporaries – become clearer. Explored in this manner, design is not only practical, but metaphorical, lyrical, and poetic. It speaks to us in the hushed and reverent tones of our shared experiences if we can learn to listen to and discern those muted murmurs.

Registration is required. Once registered and paid, you will receive an email prior to each session with a link to join.

Do you have a scheduling conflict for the live session? You can still enjoy the program. Register and we’ll send you the recording! All paid attendees will be emailed a private link to the session recording when it is available.

Missed us? You can also register retroactively. If you register for a session that has passed, you’ll recieve access to the recording when it is ready.

Haven’t tried a session yet? Each session is planned as a “stand-alone” lecture, so you can take them all or attend the topics that interest you most.


May 1
1:00 pm - 2:30 pm
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Monmouth County, NJ 07722 United States
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