• Antique Ethos

Christopher Dresser - A Designer Ahead of His Time.


You might have already come across the extended articles on our website on the development of past styles. Difficult to do without including the key personalities involved - especially when this person is Christopher Dresser. One of the first and most influential independent designers, Christopher Dresser described himself at various times in life as an artist, an ornamentalist, and an architect – these terms failing to fully summarise his work. The contemporary term ‘designer’ better describes what Dresser actually did. He was the first to depart from his contemporaries in designing creatively for industry. Dresser believed that affordable household items should still have intrinsic beauty. But to be affordable, he understood that his designs needed to suit the capabilities of industry. His radical designs were decades ahead and have stood the test-of-time.


A prolific designer, Dresser created forms and ornament for a wide range of manufacturers in Great Britain, France, and the United States. The documented list of companies he worked for is extensive however these tended to be companies manufacturing for the Victorian upper classes. The list of companies he worked for that marketed to less well-off British and foreign customers is arguably much longer. These were seldom exhibited, reviewed by the press, or featured in trade magazines and surviving company records are scarce. Dresser needed to design for wealthier clients to gain reputation (and no doubt income). However, at a time of industrialisation when money was becoming more readily available to a growing number, Dresser’s focus remained on making ‘good design’ affordable. The extent of his impact is ultimately seen in the changes in attitude towards applied arts during the mid-Victorian era, behind which he was a primary force.


If you're interested in reading more - head to our article here.

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